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Direct depost cannot be made mandatory

joy@samoanews.com

Senators and Representatives raised concerns yesterday about the direct deposit move by the Treasury Department for all government employees, including the executive, the Fono and the Judicial branch, during the resumption of the regular session of both chambers.
 
In the Senate, Senator Magalei Logovi’i pointed out it raises a question about people’s rights, and if they have been violated— given that ASG employees should be able to chose between paper checks and direct deposit — the government cannot make demands.
 
The senator noted he has received numerous calls from his constituents about the issue.
 
In the House, Representative Va’amua Henry Sesepasara stated his constituents have complained to him about this move, and noted, “The question that arises — does the Treasurer have the authority to enforce government employees to get bank accounts for the direct deposits of their paychecks?”
 
The Pago Pago faipule said some people do not have much on their paycheck after deductions, so they would rather get their paychecks themselves than to have them directed to the bank.
 
Va’amua stated there are lot of changes the current Treasurer is implementing yet the affect takes a toll on the people who suffer from this. He said the Treasurer should be questioned by the House.
 
Speaker of the House Savali Talavou Ale also concurred with Va’amua, saying people in his District have also contacted him on this issue and the Treasurer should not force people to have bank accounts if they don’t want to. 
 
He also said that Treasurer Falema’o should come before the House to explain the reasons behind this move.
 
Falema’o will be in the House today, however it was made clear to Representatives that the Treasurer is present today on the issue of overtime. In the meantime the Senate has called a hearing on this matter on Wednesday, Feb. 12, following the regular session at 10:30a.m.
 
BACKGROUND
 
Late last month Treasurer Dr. Falema’o Phil Pili told Samoa News the Treasury Department is phasing out paper paychecks for employees of ASG — in the executive, legislative and judicial branches — and they will be replaced with a mandatory direct deposit into the employee’s bank account, as Zions Bank fully takes over the processing of ASG’s payroll.
 
_This move, according to the Treasurer, would be implemented later this month, and employees without direct deposit were urged to set it up as soon as possible.
 
In a letter dated Friday, Feb. 8, 2014, to the ASG Workforce, from the Treasurer, and released to the media over the weekend, Falema’o said there were some problems with the submission of the Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) files to banking institutes and as a result there was no guarantee that “an early deposit to reflect on your respective accounts as usual or on the Saturday before the standard payday” would occur.
 
He went on to specify in the Treasury Press Release that “as mentioned in the prior notification, all other banking institutes’ direct deposits will be posted in your accounts on Monday, January 10, 2014. Payroll check distribution will also occur on Monday, January 10, 2014 as regularly scheduled.”



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