Government using taxpayer money to campaign: Tuilaepa

By Sialai Sarafina Sanerivi 23 October 2021, 10:39PM

The Opposition leader has accused the Government of using taxpayers' money for political campaigns and made particular reference to $200,000 earmarked in its 2021-2022 Budget for each constituency. 

The former Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi made the claims during a recent meeting with the media and condemned the funding, saying its timing and categorisation as a "project" was designed for Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) to use as part of its by-election campaign.

"We have noted that down," Tuilaepa said. "There will come a time when we will bring everything they're doing under the microscope and we will end up in court for (allegedly) using taxpayers' money for their campaigns.

"They should not have done that."

In making his argument, Tuilaepa thought it was inconsiderate of the party to begin the discussions and paperwork for the project with representatives of the seven constituencies that will go through by-elections next month. 

"Why would they start with those seven constituencies when they are yet to vote for a representative in Parliament? It's obvious that they are using this opportunity to implement the project within these constituencies as part of their tricks to manipulate and win over our voters."

However, the project according to the former Prime Minister is "not new" and reiterated that his government undertook similar projects before.

"We have done similar projects in the past where we give out tools, equipment, and wheelbarrows for the villages to empower and assist them with the work they do in their villages. 

"They are making it look like it's something new, but it's not."

Tuilaepa then took aim at the Chairman of the F.A.S.T. party, La'auli Leuatea Schmidt and claimed he was the mastermind behind the party's strategy.

"But whatever they are doing, we will note them down, compile them into files which we will soon submit to court so they can answer to all the wrongdoings and lies they are doing."

Attempts by this newspaper to get a comment from the F.A.S.T. Chairman on Saturday night were unsuccessful.

The F.A.S.T. government promised a $1 million policy under the District Development Committee prior to the elections in April. The initiative by the Government aims to strengthen the social sector. 

However, in the Government's 2021/2022 Budget, instead of the promised $1million tala for each constituency, a total of $11 million was earmarked for the project which translates to $200,000 for each district to kick off preparations for the plan. 

The main objective of the project is for the development of constituencies and a project management committee will be responsible for the review and disbursement of the funding.

The committee will comprise people with skills and knowledge on management and development from the respective constituencies, which would also mean the provision of employment.  

Constituencies from across the country have already begun taking the first step of the project which is the registration process over two weeks ago. 

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By Sialai Sarafina Sanerivi 23 October 2021, 10:39PM
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