Papalii Panoa Told by Minister to Step Away from District Development Committee

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FAST party election candidate, Papalii Panoa Tavita Moala, has been told to step away from a District Development Committee for which he had taken up the role of Deputy Chairman.

Papalii Panoa had run as a candidate for the Faatuatua i Le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) party for the Sagaga 1 constituency. The District Development Committee he has been asked to step away from, is for then neighboring constituency of Faleata 4 – where HRPP’s Ale Vena Ale is the Member of Parliament.

In a press conference with local media this week, Papalii Panoa expressed his disappointment with the Minister for Community Development, Hon Leota Laki Lamositele Sio. Papalii says he has not breached any of the conditions set down for District Development Committee selections, and goes on to explain what the requirements are for the 15-person committees, tasked to overlook a $1 million tala allocation from the government budget.

“The committee is chaired by the Member of Parliament, the Deputy Chair is a member who supported FAST, and who lives in the district.. for the Secretary, we must select someone wo supported FAST and is endorsed by the Chair, and the 12 members left – to be 6 FAST, 6 HRPP…”

Papalii says he was sad that a letter from the Minister to remove his service from the Faleata 4 committee was made public.

“”I qualify for the Faleata 4 committee because I am a matai of Faleata, and if we go back to the conditions set out – the Deputy Chair is someone who supported FAST, and lives within the district..

“There is no reference to having to be a voter,” adds Papalii, “so that means I qualify.”

Saina is one of the seven villages of Faleata 4, which includes Toamua, Puipaa, Leusoalii, Satunumafono, Safune2, Utumaagao.

In response to questions, MP for Faleata 4, Ale Vena Ale, said their District Development Committee has been formally registered and Papalii Panoa was never a part of it. According to the MP, the committee has met four times already, and are properly registered with the endorsement of the Community Development Minister, and FAST Party Chair Laaulialemalietoa.

“Ua maea ona matou uia auala uma ma le Minisita, faapea le Taitatifono ia Laauli.”

Ale Vena Ale says the last meeting of the District Development Committee held at the MPs residence on the 11th of May.  “On that day, we heard that Papalii was having his own meeting in Saina.”

The MP says there are members of Saina village in the committee, and Papalii Panoa is not one of them.

The letter sent by Hon Leota Laki Sio to Papalii Panoa, again sets out the mandated requirements of the District Development Committees as: Chair – the elected Member of Parliament, Deputy Chair – a person who supported the FAST political party (se tasi sa lagolagoina le FAST, Secretary – a person who supported FAST. Of the 15 – 7 HRPP, 8 FAST.

The Ministry of Women and Community and Social Development have been allocated $51 million tala of the Government’s 2022/2023 budget. Each of Samoa’s 51 electoral constituency districts are to be given $1 million tala for community and social development projects. The projects, aimed at investing in sustainable development of villages, are to be overlooked by the 15-person committees.