Samoa Health Ministry Bashed Over Food Expenditures

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Parliamentary committee report condemns ‘feasting’

By Ilia L. Likou

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Jan. 6, 2014) – Samoa’s Ministry of Health has been criticised for spending too much money on food.

The criticism is made in a Report by the Officers of Parliament Committee (OPC), which expresses the concern that such funds should have been spent on projects to improve the delivery of services by the Ministry, rather than food.

The concern is highlighted in the Committee’s report tabled in Parliament last month. A copy of the report, written in Samoan, has been obtained by the Samoa Observer.

The report identifies incidents of "overspending of public funds by the Ministry" especially in the area of "hosting functions" and "catering."

"In line with a document submitted to the Committee, it has noted substantial expenses incurred by the Ministry for feasting…" the report reads.

[PIR editor’s note: The report, translated from Samoan, can be read here, courtesy of the Samoa Observer.]

Such feasts cost the Ministry close to WST$270,000 [US$114,397] during the financial period in question.

"Despite the Ministry’s clarifications that there is an opportunity in which other funds may be used to cater for their needs, the Committee’s concern nevertheless is that such spending should have been done with caution as it was not spending on projects but food," the report reads.

"Even the reserve funds for the Minister’s gifts had exceeded the estimated reserve."

But food is not the only spending questioned by the Parliamentary Committee.

It also questioned WST$250,000 [US$105,923] spent on the Nurses' Home.

"An enormous amount of money has been paid to this contract amounting to some 72 per cent but it is not in order with the work done.

"The Committee has also confirmed that the Project Manager responsible for the Project was laid off from work.

"As such the Committee records its deep concern with the negligence of the Ministry as reflected in the poor preparation of this project from the beginning.

"The Committee believes that a lot of money has been wasted due to the failure of the Ministry to seriously look at the selection and the awarding of the contract, and in particular the terms and conditions on which the project manager was selected."

The Report from OPC follows the report of the Controller and Chief Auditor to the Legislative Assembly for the period ended 30 June 2010.

Leaked to the Samoa Observer and published in full earlier this year, the report highlights abuse and "corrupt practises" within the running of government Ministries and Corporations.

In 2012, Parliament referred the Chief Auditor’s Report to The Officers of Parliament Committee for an investigation.

Last month, the Committee tabled its report before Parliament.

Chaired by Muagututagata Peter Ah Him, other committee members include Taefu Lemi Taefu (HRPP), Agafili Eteuati Tolovaa (HRPP), Aeau Dr. Peniamina Levaiseeta (Tautua), Papali’itele Niko Lee Hang (HRPP), Motuoopua’a Dr. Aisoli Vaai (Tautua) and Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster (Tautua).

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