Fono postpones Energy Office hearing after appointee voted down
The Fono joint budget committee has postponed until later next week the review of the Territorial Energy Office’s fiscal year 2014 budget until there is word from the Governor’s Office as to the status of a new appointee to oversee the TEO.
TEO’s budget was on the schedule for review yesterday and the director-appointee Timothy Jones was already in the Senate gallery waiting for the hearing. However, he was alerted by a government official of the possibility that TEO’s budget may end up not being reviewed due to his status as head of this entity.
Prior to the start of the TEO budget hearing, Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee chairman Sen. Laolagi F.S. Vaeao told lawmakers that there have been concerns raised by some committee members regarding Jones having to testify for the TEO budget.
He shared that the Senate on Thursday rejected Jones’ nomination as TEO director making him no longer eligible to be either director or acting director to answer budget questions. He then sought lawmakers input on whether to proceed with the hearing or not.
Sen. Galeai Tu’ufuli said the law is clear in that once a nominee is rejected, a new appointment is made by the administration, unless a person is appointed as acting director. However, he did not believe there had been any new communication from the Governor’s Office regarding a new person to oversee the TEO.
Rep. Atualevao Gafatasi Afalava requested they postpone the hearing to another day, until there is a new communication from the governor’s office and this was quickly supported by other committee members.
Laolagi says the Fono will communicate with the administration regarding the head of the TEO office and will probably hold that agency’s budget hearing later next week.
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