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Five Districts sign $750,000 under the $1m District Development Project

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – 21 MARCH 2023: Five districts yesterday signed the Fund Agreement for ST$150,000 tala each as the second instalment of their $1 million District Development Project.

The districts are:

  • Lotofaga
  • Salega 2
  • Vaa o Fonoti
  • Faleata 4 and
  • Gagaifomauga 2

The $150,000 is allocated to fund three District Council permanent staff, 13 Council members’ allowances and office operations. This is allocated after submitting audits of the initial spending of $200,000 for the district offices. The third allocation is $425,000 for the actual projects leaving the final instalment of $225,000 to be paid after the projects expenses are audited.

Currently out of the 51 districts, 35 have already approved and signed their 15% ($150,000) of the $1 million project with 16 districts remaining.

Meanwhile, 17 districts have already been allocated the third instalment of $425,000 to implement the projects as approved by the District Councils.

Some delays but sure to benefit
Mulipola highlighted the fact that the process with which the project is guided by may be slow in progress but will certainly benefit all districts.

She said some districts have proposed two or three projects in either health, education, connectivity, access roads, agriculture or the environment.

Faleata 4 signing
Faleata 4 signing

Faleata No 4 Member of Parliament, Ale Vena Ale signing as the Minister of Finance Mulipola Anarosa Molio’o looks on.

The Million Dollar Village Development Project was initiated by the FAST Government in a bid to raise a uniform level of village economic and living standards by involving the villages in selecting the projects most needed in their villages.

Since it was promoted in the party’s election manifesto, there have been numerous efforts by the Opposition to discredit it and there have been delays as friction within several district committees were based on political allegiances.

“Such problems and challenges delay the process, but we are cautious not to get involved in their internal affairs but to give them time to sort it out amongst themselves,” said Mulipola Anarosa Molio’o, the Minister of Finance.

However, she said if the challenges continue and could affect the district as a whole, then the Government will need to step in and make a decision for that district.

Asked if there was a time frame given to such districts to solve any internal matter, Mulipola said they are looking at April as they are preparing for the Financial Year 2023/2024 Budget for June.

5 to 10 working days before the funds are available in the districts bank accounts
One of the issues Mulipola emphasized at the signing ceremony was when the timeframe for funds to be available after they were deposited into the district’s bank accounts.

For the $150,000, it takes five working days for the paper work before the funds are transferred to district accounts and 10 working days for the $425, 000,” said Mulipola.

Mulipola commended the Project Working Group which consists of the Chief Executive Officers of Government Ministries who make recommendations to the Cabinet Project Steering Committee based on the proposals.

“The project is running well with a few districts trying to finalise their audited reports before submitting them, but overall, everything is good,” Mulipola assured.