No Government shutdown: Samoa caretaker PM

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Samoa caretaker Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has assured the public in a special address Tuesday that there will not be a shutdown of Government services as there provisions in the law to continue funding public services despite the Parliament not sitting.

Speaking on the eve of the new 2021/2022 fiscal year through a special announcement made through the Government’s official Facebook page, Tuilaepa said that under the current circumstance with the political impasse between the two dominant parties, there are legal provisions under the law to avoid a total government shutdown like in other states facing similar challenges.

“I wish to make a special announcement that tomorrow(Wednesday) 30 June 2021 is the last day of the current Fiscal Year from 01 July 2020 to 30 June 2021,” he said in his address on the budget.

“And we have yet to convene a properly constituted Legislative Assembly in accordance with Articles III and 44 of the Constitution of the Independent State of Samoa for reasons that are already well known and under dispute.

“Under normal circumstances, the whole of Government machinery must close down as it happened in many countries of the world with similar political challenges.

“Fortunately, we have enabling provisions both in the Constitution and in the Public Finance Management Act to facilitate a smooth continuation of approval of unappropriated public expenditure under warrants of payment certified by the Audit Office and approved by the Head of State, who is the sole authority to pay or issue money out of the Treasury Fund or from any other Public Fund under Article 93 of the Constitution and in line with the validity period of proclamations authorised under the Constitution.

“So there is no need to be panic.”

In a bid to allay fears over the monitoring of public funds with the Parliament yet to convene to debate the new fiscal year’s budget, Tuilaepa said Samoa’s Audit Office will continue its “monitoring and auditing of the national treasury.”

“The Audit Office which reports directly to the Legislative Assembly being an Office of Parliament will continue its time monitoring and auditing function of the National Treasury and the cash position of the other public bodies and enterprises.

“Other internal controls during this economic emergency will also be closely coordinated with all the Chief Executive Officers of Public Entities.

“The usage of the authorisation of payments out of the Treasury Fund or in any other Fund under the system utilised is not new.

“It was used before in other similar emergency situations confronted by Government.

“I thank you for your patience, kind understanding and prayers.”

In the Samoan version of the statement of Tuilaepa’s announcement, the caretaker Prime Minister highlighted Samoa’s almost 60 years of independence and the importance of its inception into the UN since its establishment at the end of World War II.

SOURCE: SAMOA OBSERVER/PACNEWS