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Samoa's Disaster Advistory chairperson rubbishes money claims

The Chairperson of the Disaster Advisory Committee, Taule’ale’ausumai La’avasa Malua has vehemently denied claims that some public servants are demanding money from members of the public before they install electricity and water.The claims were made by some families who contacted the Samoa Observer. They wanted to know if it was a matter of policy that they pay the public servants before the services are provided.One mother said her family gave some Electric Power Corporation (EPC) workers money to have their electricity restored.“I don't mind paying but I’m just wondering if this is the norm,” she said. “I mean we appreciate the hard work they are doing and I would happily give them some money for their lunch.“But I’m calling your newspaper because I wonder if the Prime Minister and the government is aware that some public servants are using the disaster to rip off people.”Asked for a comment, Taule’ale’ausumai made it clear that “there is no policy by the utilities” that requires people affected by Cyclone Evan to pay anything.“I cannot confirm those claims,” said Taule’ale’a. “I cannot confirm them because we (Disaster Management Committee) have not received any such complaints.”Besides, the Chairman said“we don’t have a policy like that in our utilities.”“It’s up to people if they want to give workers water and food from their good hearts but we don’t allow them (workers) to ask for money.” During a telephone interview with the Samoa Observer yesterday, Taule’ale’a described the claims as “distasteful.” He said he would look into the claims.