Fono expenditure payments put on hold by Governor
Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga has suspended the processing of any further Legislative Fiscal Year 2013 expenses in a letter addressed to Dr Falema’o Phil Pili Treasurer, Human Resources Director Sonny Thompson and Budget Director Cathy Dora Aigamaua-Saelua, which was sent on Monday.
The governor noted in light of the chronic deficit position of the Fono’s FY 2013 budget, the need for intervention has arisen, “please suspend the processing of all Legislative expenditures until the Supplemental Budget Appropriation is approved.”
Samoa News understands the Supplemental Budget Appropriation the governor is referring to, is the proposed supplemental that will be submitted to the Fono for approval soon, and will be only ‘for Fono expenses’.
The previous Supplemental budget that was approved and signed into law in April had $500,000 allocated for the Legislature, as well as other funding, such as for the repairs of the MV Sili, the government-owned vessel.
According to Lolo, until the mitigating plan is approved, allowed expenditures will only be the salaries and monthly allowances of the Senators and Representatives, along with salaries of staff that are officially on the government payroll system.
“Employees paid through payment vouchers are not to be processed. All other expenses will not be paid until the Supplemental Appropriation is approved.
“These Fono employees who are being paid by vouchers must have their paper work processed through the Department of Human Resources,” said the governor.
He also sought a report detailing Legislative expenditure requests which have not been paid, along with the list of all Legislative Staff, including those on personal service contracts and those individuals who are being paid through vouchers.
Governor Lolo asked for the report as soon as possible to facilitate his discussion with Fono leaders.
In April this year, Samoa News was able to obtain copies of Fono expense ledgers, itemizing Fono expenses as of the first 4- 5 months of their FY 2013 budget. The ledgers identified these expenses pertaining to each division of the Legislative branch and category they were identified as belonging or from where the money came from that ‘funded’ the expense.
Samoa News then published stories about these Fono expenses and noted aside from payroll and office supply expenses that off-island travel expenses, which included per diems, were the highest of the Fono expenditures for this period of time.
We further reported, Between Oct. 2012 and Feb. 28, 2013, the total expenses for the House of Representatives was $1,069,016.17, while the Senate outlay was for $1, 277,586.45, for a Grand Total of $2, 346,602.62 for both chambers.
The Fono has an approved budget of $6.2 million for fiscal year 2013. Based on First Quarter Performance Report from the ASG Treasury Department, the Legislature is projected to have an overrun of $1.5 million in 2013.
As previously reported in Samoa News, the Fono has already overrun their first quarter budget by almost $400,000; and the more recent approved supplemental budget gave $500,000 back to the Fono‘s budget.
Samoa News assumes from Gov. Lolo’s memo that the Fono has run through this $500,000 and is now in need of more money to continue to pay its expenses.
Noted by Samoa News in its April news reports, there were certain employees being paid as possibly ‘cultural’ consultants. They are former Pago Pago faipule Pule Ae Ae Jr.; Afuola Nanai — a former deputy director of Samoa Affairs; Aumoeualogo Salanoa Soli; and Te’o J. Fuavai — a former senator and gubernatorial candidate.
It was further highlighted by Samoa News that Mika Kelemete Jr. (a former TCF prison warden who was convicted in federal court for assaulting inmates, and served time in prison), seemed to be paid not only out of the Senate budget, but also showed up in the House expense report, receiving the same amount bi-weekly as he does from the Senate — $1056.00, which means he makes over $50,000 per year. Samoa News understands Kelemete is the Senate President’s assistant, and runs his errands as needed.
It is not known, if the above mentioned cultural consultants, as well as Kelemete are paid by voucher method, or are processed as payroll employees, as deductions such as taxes, including FICA-Medicare and Retirement are not listed per employee in the ledgers, but as a separate payout, with no names identifying specifics.
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