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Lolo-Lemanu face first challenge for new admin

reporters@samoanews.com

“There is no money allocated in the [government] Budget for inauguration expenses,” said Governor-elect Lolo Matalasi Moliga, in response to Samoa News queries about the inauguration, which is scheduled for Jan. 3, 2013.

He also noted that he and Lt. Governor-elect, Lemanu Peleti Mauga have appointed Fiu Johnny Saelua to oversee the inauguration team, to come up with how they will fund the inaugural event, while they have appointed Afoa Moega Lutu to oversee their transition team.

Fiu was the Committee Chairman for team Lolo and Lemanu, while Afoa was one of the five other gubernatorial candidates. The Afoa and Le’i team endorsed Lolo and Lemanu after the General Election.

Lolo told Samoa News that the inauguration team has until Wednesday to come up with a preliminary plan for this event; and given that there is no money allocated in the government Budget the committee should come up with a plan they can afford.

The governor-elect said during a general meeting held last Friday that inauguration costs are normally included in the fiscal budget every four years, however this wasn't done in the current budget. He added it may have been because the Administration did not expect what has happened — the Lolo & Lemanu Team were elected.

Lolo explained that most of the funds for the current fiscal year have already been spent  and noted the government has an ASPA bill of $10 million and also owes $6- $10 million to an insurance company. Both were subjects he and the governor spoke about during their meeting on Wednesday, the day after the run off election.

He added that he has instructed the inauguration committee to include the Chairmen of Team Afoa and Le’i and Salu and Savusa campaign committees, in planning a program that will not require extra funding, given there is no use coming up with an inauguration program that has no budget.

TRANSITION COMMITTEE

Lolo said during the general meeting held last Friday that Dr. Salu Hunkin Finau, Tim Jones and members of the transition committee will be assisting chairman Afoa L Su’esu’e Lutu and noted that whomever wished to be included in the transition team needed to sign up with Minnie Tuia, their campaign committee secretary. He added they will follow through on their campaign promise — that they would advertise all the positions in the government and everyone will get a chance to apply.

Lolo noted that positions for directors for their administration will be open to everyone to apply, however he and Lemanu will make the final selection. He said that the only two positions that he and Lemanu will personally choose is the Attorney General and the Secretary of Samoan Affairs. He did not indicate a choice has been made for either position at this time.

OTHER ISSUES

The Governor-elect said that some people are saying he and Lemanu are not qualified or capable leaders to govern the American Samoa Government. Lolo said there is no one more experienced and knowledgeable than he and Lemanu when it comes to a relationship with Washington D.C. or the U.S. Congress, and when it comes to the culture and responding to the people’s needs.

He commended the inauguration team, given that there are no funds to pay for the event, however this is their service to the people. He reiterated that God has blessed them (he and Lemanu) to become leaders — the winners of the election — so that they can help make changes that will benefit everyone, not just a few.

Lolo added that there are current problems facing ASPA and the LBJ hospital, however given the wealth of personnel resources who are members of their committee they can come up with solutions to these problems.

He reminded the youth that their voices and ideas are very important to assist with the improvement of the government.

TIME FOR RECONCILIATION

During the meeting held last Friday, Samoa News understands Lemanu gave brief remarks, speaking about the importance of families. He noted that the election has split some families and some relatives are holding grudges against each other because of the election. Lemanu urged supporters and committee members to make amends within their respective villages,  adding that now is the time to reconcile with those who have turned against you — Christmas is near, when our Lord Jesus Christ was born.

During the meeting it was also announced that Lolo and Lemanu will conduct cultural presentations to thank their campaign committee on Dec. 15, 2012.

BACKGROUND

In Dec. 2008, the Togiola administration introduced a supplemental appropriation for $320,00, which included $70,000 for the Inauguration held in Jan. 2009. The bill was passed on Dec.10th and the funding for the bill came from unbudgeted and unexpended money in the FY2009 budget. The bill also included money — $250,000 — for a Constitutional Convention.

The 2009 Inauguration events included the Jan. 3rd Swearing In Ceremony, which was followed by a formal luncheon held at the Fale Laumei; and on Jan. 10th — a public celebration was held at the Veteran’s Memorial Stadium.

Points of interest:

Governor-elect Lolo Matalasi Moliga was the President Senate at the time the supplemental appropriation bill was introduced and passed in the Fono.

Afoa Moega Lutu was Chairman of the Constitutional Convention held in the latter part of June 2010. He was appointed by Gov. Togiola Tulafono to head and organize the convention.



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