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$1m District Development Project will not wait for MPs endorsement

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – 06 JUNE 2022: The Minister for Women, Community & Social Development (MWCSD) Leota Laki Lamositele Sio, whose Ministry is responsible for the implementation of the $1 million tala District Development Project, says the project will not wait for an endorsement from the district’s Member of Parliament for it to go ahead.

“The refusal by some MPs will not stop the project, and the Government has already laid down the plans and guidelines for the project’s implementation to benefit everyone,” said Leota.

He said MPs cannot continue to go against it due to political affiliations because the Government and districts will not wait for them to come around.

“If such refusal continues to present problems, there is an opportunity for districts to approach the Ministry, once they have a collective agreement on what they want done,” said Leota.

“Then Government will then address the challenges,” said Leota

The Government policy is for the district MP to lead as Chairperson of the District Council that acts as the Board for the District Developments Project.

However not all districts especially those whose MPs are of the Opposition Party have been making it difficult for their district to sign up for the project.

But some HRPP MPs have put aside their political affiliations to make use of the opportunities offered to develop their districts.

Last Friday, Vaimauga No 1 HRPP MP, Sulamanaia Tauiliili and his districts committee signed the Finance Agreement to access $200,000 initial funding for each district to set up office and appoint staff.

After signing, he said it was time to move on then shook hands with the Ministers and left.

Faleata No 4 HRPP MP, Ale Vena Ale urged his district to put aside their support for political parties and concentrate on building and developing the district.

Ale spoke during the district’s celebration of Samoa’s 60th independence anniversary and referred to Saina, a sub-village of the district that is against the project.

“Whatever we do collectively as a district, let’s not forget Saina,” he said.

Four HRPP MPs have already signed the agreement on behalf of their respective districts and have commended the Government for the project.

As of last week 32 out of 51 districts have signed the Finance Agreement to access ST$200,000 to set up offices, staff and committees to implement the ST$1 million tala for each district now allocated in the new budget.

District Devept Minister of Finance & Leota
District Devept Minister of Finance & Leota

Minister of Finance, Mulipola Anarosa Molioo and Minister of Women, Leota Laki Lamositele Sio at the signing of the Agreements with the individual districts.

Guideline for district development plans
The Government has identified five major guidelines for the project which are:

  • Development opportunities for everyone and reduction of poverty,
  • Health development,
  • Education development,
  • Good governance and
  • Encourage business development within villages and districts.

The focus of the first three guidelines is on human development but Leota also noted that districts have different resources.

“Government may have laid out the five guidelines to be followed, but each district have to provide their own guidelines for the long term development based on the resources they have,” he said.

Such process will help the districts identify the kind of project they need and give it emphasis.

It’s a five year project so districts can have a choice of focusing on one project a year, said Leota.

Built into the project, is the reporting requirement back to MWCSD at a certain time with an audited report, and must also provide a long term development projects with guidelines.

Once the Ministry is satisfied with a Districts Development Plans and reports, then they are eligible to their $1 million tala.

Asked if groups or organisations such as Women or Youth groups or Village Farmers Associations can apply for a portion of the $1 million for their own developments, Leota said it is up to the District Councils.

Member of Parliament for Faasaleleaga 2, Magele Sekati Fiaui told Talamua “It’s mostly human development that we prioritize and we want to start from education and the safety of the children which is the aim of our first project,” he said.

“But for now, we need to build the office first so we can turn these projects into a reality and not just wait and plan and nothing happens.”

He was one of the fourteen MPs who signed the agreement last Friday.