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Gov Lolo talks finances, cost containment and service

A roll-back of unbudgeted salaries, cost containment, security clearance for directors and government employees, policies on government vehicles, the anti-deficiency act,  the governor’s trip, and various ways to improve services to the public.


These were among the many issues discussed during Governor Lolo's first cabinet meeting open to the media, which took place  at the Public Works Conference Room in Tafuna, on Friday, Feb. 15, with Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga and Lt Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga  in attendance, along with close to 40 members of the ASG cabinet and governor's staff.


“We have selected the best of the best in this government to carry out the agenda in the next four years” said the governor.


He congratulated the directors who have received confirmation and noted that only one director (Pa’u Roy Ausage Acting Director for Department of Youth and Women Affairs) was turned down by the Senate, but noted that they will give it another try.  


He introduced Velega Savali Jr as his nominee for Chief Election Officer, Lealao Melila Purcell as Director for Department of Agriculture, Tim Jones as the Director for the Territorial Energy Office and Catherine Dora Aigamaua-Saelua as Director for the Office of Program Planning and Budget Development.


He told the directors that their selection is very special, because the best were selected from among the people. He repeatedly told the cabinet members that their purpose is to serve the people.


“Your selection was based on three things— number one was the review by the group that we appointed to review your career, work experiences and educational background. Number two is your loyalty, and finally how the public perceives you as a leader” he said.


“It’s not easy to pursue the service that we promise our people, but I feel very confident that we have the man power to carry that forward and serve our people the best way we can."


“The people are important because that is why we are all here, we're not here to serve ourselves” he said.


He said every morning when waking up, he’s proud of himself, because he doesn't have to worry about 'babysitting' directors— because he has the best directors and trusts that they will serve the people.


It takes a leader to know and understand what it will take to serve the people in the best way you can, given the resources that you have, he said.


Lolo discussed the budget for the Office of the Governor, noting that almost half of the second quarter funds have been used and the personnel cost for the first quarter went as high as $800,000, when less than half a million dollars had been budgeted for the first quarter.


He told the directors that they will have similar problems and that is one of the reasons they were chosen— because they can find ways to solve these problems. Lolo urged the directors to meet with their finance people and go over every penny in their budget, and also to understand where each and every penny goes, because every penny counts.


He also noted that they also have to make sure that they do not violate the anti deficiency act. He added that they project a 5.7 million deficit, and said that the government can do better. Lolo noted there’s been a misuse of Federal grants, where they allowed the unallowable to take place, and did things they were not supposed to do. As a result, the issue of high risk comes in.


“It's simple— follow the plan. When the grant says purchase two vehicles, follow the plan, buy two vehicles because when you step away from the plan, that’s where high risk comes in" he stated.


He noted that financially the government is not in good shape, but he added that the government is in good hands with Treasurer Falema’o Pili.


Lolo added that Falema’o is committed, aggressive and will always find ways to come up with the money to meet the government needs.


Samoa News will report on other issues discussed during the cabinet meeting in later editions.