No such thing as “lease-to-own” at ASG, it's corrupt says Lolo
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — There is no such thing as “lease to own” of a vehicle under government policy, said Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga, who described the practice as “corrupt” during Tuesday’s cabinet meeting.
Lease-to-own government vehicles, as well as ASG vehicle use after hours, were some of the side issues raised by the governor with cabinet members, who were gathered at the Governor’s Office conference room for a presentation by the Department of Health and Human Services on the qualification and distribution process of the $18 million the territory received from the feds.
Lease-to-own “abuse” was first raised by the governor in an Oct. 22nd letter to executive branch directors, saying agencies have requested and received approval from Procurement Office to allow vehicles to be leased with the intent to purchase.
This practice, said the governor, has been “abused” by some agencies, and he ordered it to cease immediately. (See Samoa News Oct. 24th edition for details).
During the cabinet meeting — aired Wednesday night on KVZK-TV — Lolo noted that “something new” was implemented by Procurement and others, dealing with “lease-to-own” of vehicles by the government.
“There is no such policy as lease-to-own” when it comes to government vehicles, said Lolo, who said the “government policy is the vehicle is purchased outright.”
“Lease-to-own” will result in “corrupt” ways that “we are now seeing,” Lolo continued, but didn’t elaborate further. According to the governor, only one exemption has been granted for this practice, and that is, for the Health Department, which has programs that run for about six months and therefore, this is a good reason to “lease” a vehicle for ASG use.
After the six months, the “leased” vehicle is returned to the vendor, said Lolo, who emphasized that the “lease” must go through the Governor’s Office for approval and signature. Furthermore, any lease out there of which the Governor’s Office is not aware, must be returned to “my office for the official approval and signature,” he said.
According to Lolo, there have been incidents in which a lease expires and the ownership of the vehicle is taken over by an employee, who then registers the vehicle as personal property. “If the director wants to purchase the vehicle, do so outright, but the government has no lease-to-own policy,” he emphasized.
VEHICLE USE POLICY
The governor once again reminded directors of the government’s policy pertaining to the use of ASG vehicles, including the vehicle assigned to a director, and the police continuing with enforcement of the ASG vehicle policy.
He said DPS carried out enforcement of the ASG vehicle policy for only a week and that was it. He urged Deputy Police Commissioner, Falanaipupu Taase Sagapolutele — who represented the Police Commissioner at the meeting — to continue this enforcement, especially on the weekends.
Lolo said directors are fully aware that only they can use the director’s assigned car and no one else. Additionally, there is a pass required in order for use other ASG vehicles — not assigned to the director — after hours. “Don’t abuse government vehicles,” he said, adding that it’s not the directors breaking the policy, it’s the department employees.
He said there are incidents whereby an employee without a private driver’s license operates an ASG vehicle. “This should not happen at all,” Lolo said, adding that police should impound vehicles that don’t comply with the set policies.
And if a department car is impounded by police, Lolo told directors to be prepared to pay $500 for its release — the money can help DPS fund its many programs. “A government employee with no driver’s license has “no business” driving an ASG vehicle because if something happens, the government is responsible,” the governor said.