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Lolo says using ASG assets for personal use is nothing new

Ta’ita’i o le malo, le afioga i le ali’i Kovana ia Lolo Matalasi Moliga ma le lutena kovana ia Lemanu Palepoi Peleti Mauga. [ata AF]

Allegations that an auto shop using a car alternator from an ASG vehicle on a private vehicle, belonging to a government employee, was revealed by Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga, at last Thursday’s cabinet meeting, where the governor said this practice is not new and urged cabinet directors to protect government assets.

According to the governor, there are times after work he conducts site visits of schools and he would also visit private auto shops where government vehicles are held  for repairs. He said it's very shocking what he has witnessed at many of these auto shops, with four, five or more government vehicles there, and some cars have been there since 2010.

The governor recommended that departments with cars at these shops look into the matter and if the vehicles are no longer useful, take the cars out of these shops.

Lolo said he had observed one auto shop, where there are government cars and he will be contacting the director of the department which oversees those cars. At this particular shop, the governor said there was a call from a department staff member to the auto shop to remove the alternator from the ASG vehicle for use on the private car belonging to the ASG employee, at the same auto shop.

While Lolo didn’t identify the ASG department or the employee by name, he did say he believes this practice is nothing new because it has been happening in the past. He said that if a private vehicle belonging to an ASG employee is not working, it's taken to an auto shop and the parts for the ASG vehicle are taken out and used on the ASG employee’s car.

This has been witnessed at private auto shops, the governor said, adding that this is very bad practice and the only reason it's happening is because the director does not know what’s happening within his or her department.

While there weren’t many vehicles purchased during the current administration, Lolo told directors that it's their responsibility to protect all government assets.

And if the director cannot do it, that means “we are not doing our job,” he said and reminded directors to make sure they are aware of what their staff is doing.

He reiterated again that some of these issues are not new, as they were done before all of them - directors, governor and lieutenant governor - were young.

Lolo said he remembers - when he was young - an uncle at Atu’u who went to work in the morning with a bag containing a hammer and a carpenter ruler.

He said the uncle would hold the bag on his side as he walked, but when the uncle returned home, he would not be holding the bag on the side but instead the bag was carried over his shoulder, said Lolo, adding that all the new items inside the bag belonged to the government.

That statement brought laughter from the crowd, but Lolo again noted that it's nothing new, adding that it's “our responsibility” to protect government assets to prevent the old problems from reoccurring again and again.

Also during his visits to the private auto shops, Lolo said he observed many scrap metal at the site as well as old tires collecting water, which are breeding grounds for mosquito borne diseases.

He requested the government agencies involved in the island wide cleaning project to help get rid of these items, to protect the health of the community.