$51 million for districts in 2022/2023 Budget

By Sialai Sarafina Sanerivi 26 May 2022, 6:55PM

A $51 million grant promised by the ruling Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) to Samoa's 51 constituencies has been included in the 2022/2023 Budget to be tabled next Tuesday.

This was confirmed by the F.A.S.T. party Chairman, La'auli Leuatea Schmidt during the televised Soalepule live programme on E.F.K.S. TV on Wednesday night. 

He also reconfirmed that the official signing of the districts' $200,000 grant will be done on Friday before it is released to the different constituencies. The $200,000 grant was approved in the 2021/2022 Budget which totalled close to $11 million for district-focused development.  

The signing will be done between the Ministry of Women Community and Social Development and the districts that had already completed their registration and are set to kick-start the project. 

In a recent interview with the Samoa Observer, La'auli said less than a quarter of the country's 51 electoral constituencies completed the administrative paperwork required in order to participate in the district development project 

“About 10 constituencies will have funding released before the end of this month,” said La’auli.  “I will be going to my constituency next week for our meeting and planning of where the office will be built and those other matters. 

"By the July [parliament] sitting will have programme for the $1 million targeting the end of the next financial year.” 

The Minister for Women Community and Social Development, Leota Laki Sio recently made changes to the membership of district council committee members.

His intervention came after several constituencies had already legally registered their committee members with the Ministry of Commerce Industry and Labour. 

The change in the district council's membership was a result of challenges that surfaced following the selection of members and the non-recognition of F.A.S.T. supporters on the committee. 

Leota noted that out of the 12-member committee, six should be H.R.P.P. supporters and the other half to comprise supporters from F.A.S.T. or other political parties.  

The new selection criteria for committee members only applies to constituencies that have H.R.P.P. representatives. 

La’auli supported the Minister’s position saying the latest change is for the security of the project to ensure the district developments succeeds. 

He also denied claims from the opposition that the new formation shows the Government interfering with village decisions to select their own members. 

The F.A.S.T. Chairman said it is not new for the Government to have some say in the selection of committees. 

He pointed out the Government is not asking to change the whole panel but to take on board F.A.S.T. supporters that have been instrumental in supporting the $1 million project. 

It was also put to La’auli that several districts have already legally established their committee. In response, he advised that the call by the Minister in relation to the committee member criteria should be complied with and accused the Opposition for continually objecting to the project. . 

The H.R.P.P. Members had accused the Government of being biased with the new requirement, saying it will only trigger disunity in the districts at a time when everyone should be working together.

The H.R.P.P. Deputy Leader Lauofo had queried the new committee membership criteria which the Minister laid down to enable the inclusion of F.A.S.T. supporters.

He said he is unaware of who is a F.A.S.T. and H.R.P.P. supporter in his constituency as there are people who prefer to keep their political affiliations confidential.

“What the Minister is asking for is not practical. How does he know who is a F.A.S.T. supporter and who is not,” he said. “My concern is this will foster division between villages and family members because of the difference in political ideologies and that is not healthy for the country.

“In any democratic country, after the election they come together and work together to build the nation to improve the standard of living for all the people."

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By Sialai Sarafina Sanerivi 26 May 2022, 6:55PM
Samoa Observer

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