Opposition MPs Continue to Question the Fairness of $1 Million Tala Project Disbursement

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The recognised leader of the opposition in Parliament, Fonotoe Nuafesili Pierre Lauofo Meredith is the latest MP to question the process of releasing funds under Government’s $1 million tala District Development Programme.

Fonotoe has confirmed that his District Development Committee was last week informed they would not be receiving the latest disbursement of $150,000 tala because an election candidate for the ruling FAST party had submitted a query to question the composition of the committee.

Fonotoe says he is disappointed with the delay especially given that Anoamaa 2 has complied with all requirements set out for the disbursement of funds.

A lawyer by profession, Fonotoe Lauofo said Anoamaa 2 did receive and utilise the first tranche of $200,000 tala set aside from last year’s budget.

“We submitted financial and audit reports on the use of that first $200,000 tala and the Ministry was well satisfied.”

Fonotoe says his constituency was all set to receive the second portion of the grant which is for $150,000 tala, when they were informed of the delay due to a request to review the governing 15-person committee.

“This will delay the rolling out of our plans,” said the elected Deputy Leader of HRPP.

He says the logic taken by the Ministry overseeing the project unethically causes delays to community funds being disbursed, “just because a fallen election candidate makes a request to review the memberships of the committee” which he says was transparently selected by village councils within the district.

In January, Member of Parliament for Falelatai and Samatau, Lupematasila Tologata Tile Leia, also spoke out to express his disappointment in the way his District Development Committee was publicly named as one of ten who had not followed guidelines for the Million Tala project.

Ten districts, the majority of them with elected HRPP MPs, were named by Laaulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao Fosi Schmidt as being under scrutiny for non-compliance to project procurement processes.

The Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development (MWCSD) and the Ministry of Finance (MOF) are the lead Ministries overlooking the implementation of the District Development Programme whereby $1 million tala is to be disbursed to the 51 electoral constituencies each financial year.