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24 Constituencies Graduate to Receive $1 Million Tala Development Project Funds

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – 01 DECEMBER 2022: The Minister for Women, Community and Social Development (MWCSD), Leota Laki Lamositele Sio has confirmed with Talamua that 24 of 51 electoral constituencies have been approved to receive the initial payments from the $1m tala allocated annually under the District’s Development Project.

Out of this 24, nine will sign their Funding Agreements tomorrow – Friday 02 December and the other 15 districts on Tuesday next week.

Leota explained that under the project approved guidelines, the annual $1million tala allocation for each of the 51 constituencies, will be expended as follows:

He said the 24 approved constituencies have satisfied the criteria and guidelines set down for the project such as, a District Council Office with a 15 member council, an audited account of the use of the first $200,000 for office establishment and a Development Plan for the funds expenditure.

End of December set for remaining districts
Leota said the rest of the constituencies are at various stages of establishment. This has been primarily due to internal frictions and political interference. Due to this delay, the Government has set 31 December 2022 as the final date for other districts to submit their reports on how the $200,000 was utilised, so they can graduate to be entitled to the $1m tala.

Leota said September was the initial deadline set down for all districts to submit their reports; however there was a delay in some districts preparations in establishing their offices, the Council and their Development Plans and a Budget.

“So Government decided to give the other districts until 31 December 2022 to finalise and submit their reports,” said Leota. “So that there won’t be a big gap between the districts who have started their projects and those who haven’t.”

Signing District Development Funding agreements
Signing District Development Funding agreements

Leota as Minister of Social Development and the Minister of Finance, Mulipola Anarosa Ale Molioo sign the release of the initial $200,000 for one of the constituencies.

The funds are not hand outs to be distributed – E le se Tufaga tupe
Leota emphasized that the money provided under the project should not be distributed as hand outs as has been reported from some constituencies.

He stressed that if that happens, the Government will quickly stop the funds to any districts proven to give the money out rather than for development projects under the approved guidelines.

He urged the districts and the Members of Parliament to honour and follow the 5 guidelines set down under the project from the beginning.

Transparency and accountability a must
The Minister emphasized that these are public funds that must be spent in a transparent and accountable way on the very purpose they were meant for as the funds will be accounted for. He said the project is to provide development funding for individuals, collective groups and the village projects to help lift their standards of living.

The Government will not tolerate the misuse of funds allocated to the district’s human and social development projects.” – Leota Laki Lamositele – Minister of Community & Social Development.

He emphasized that this is a new initiative by the Government and its role is to see that the 51 District Councils abide by and follow the approved guidelines set down for their own benefits.

He again stressed, the Government will pull the funding as soon as there would be evidence of misuse and breach of approved guidelines for the funds allocation and use.