Fono Briefs

CHIEF ELECTION OFFICER NOMINATION SENT TO THE FONO

 

The Governor’s nomination of former police commissioner Tuaolo Manaia E. Fruean, as the new Chief Election Officer for a term of three years is now in the Legislature.

 

In his July 8th nomination letter to Fono leaders, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga, says Tuaolo is a “respected traditional leader” who “brings a vast amount of experience” to this post. He pointed out that Tuaolo has served in the House, the Senate, and retired from the High Court as an associate judge for many years.

 

“...Tuaolo’s experience across all three branches of government and his role as a traditional leader, makes him uniquely qualified to meet the challenges of the position of Chief Election Officer,” said Lolo, who urged the Fono for early review and confirmation of the nominee.

 

The nomination was introduced in the House last Friday and assigned to the appropriate House committee for a hearing Wednesday morning. The nomination is expected to be introduced this week in the Senate.

 

TAOTASI QUESTIONS GOVERNOR’S STATEMENT

 

Rep. Taotasi Archie Soliai has questioned the target of Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga’s statement regarding the annual budget books that are sent to the Fono as not used by faipules but instead, being thrown around.

 

The Ituau lawmaker raised the question during Friday’s House session when an issue dealing with financial reports was discussed. Taotasi said it's very important that the Fono has a full understanding of all government revenues in the past quarters before the administration submits the new fiscal year 2014 budget for legislative review and approval.

 

(Reports for the last two quarters of FY 2013 have already been distributed to the Fono and the third quarter - which ended June 30 - is expected to be submitted to the Fono in mid-August.)

 

Taotasi said that the governor spoke about the big budget books that have been sent to the Fono and get thrown around by faipule, but it is unclear whom the governor is referencing.

 

In past years, the sitting administration would submit two budget books, with one being much thicker, covering details of specific agencies, departments, and offices, as well as special programs.  The second book — a bit smaller in size — was for the Enterprise Fund, which includes semi-autonomous agencies.

 

During the July 11th cabinet meeting, Lolo told directors that it costs between $37,000 and $40,000 to print the “big [budget] books that “faipule just throw around — they don’t use them”. He said this year’s budget submission to the Fono would be done using “modern technology” with the entire budget details on a computer disc so “we can cut down on the cost”. He said the budget summary would be submitted on hard copy.

 

It remains unclear over the weekend as to when the administration will send the final FY 2014 budget to the Fono for review and approval. Many lawmakers plan to seek a lot of financial reports from the administration prior to holding any budget hearings in order for them to get a better understanding on where the government stands financially.

 

Treasury had forecast, at the end of the first quarter, which ended Dec. 31, 2012 — that the total general fund deficit would be  $8.86 million. With all other funds in the Treasury cash pool added, ASG was projecting a deficit of more than $9.8 million by the close of FY 2013.

 

However, in the second quarter performance report, Treasury says ASG is now looking at a deficit of $1.25 million for the general fund. If other funds in the Treasurer’s Cash Pool are added, the Treasurer says ASG is forecasting a deficit of $3.01 million for FY 2013.

 

Treasurer Dr. Falema’o ‘Phil’ Pili told Samoa News early last month that ASG still has many unbudgeted commitments being carried forward from prior years; and “we continually try to be more frugal, more creative in how we expend our limited financial resources currently available.”

 

He added, "We have been very active in our efforts to explore new revenue measures, determining ways to stabilize and to ensure financial liquidity to meet our immediate required treasury mandate. It’s going to take a little time to materialize these planned innovative ideas, but when it finally comes into full fruition, it should bring a renewed perspective to our overall economy as a whole.”

 

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