$1.9 million monthly payment to CSL unexplained

 

Anoama’a West MP, Lauofo Pierre Lauofo speaking in parliament last week

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – MONDAY 25 JUNE 2018: The $1.9 million paid monthly to the Computer Services Ltd (CSL) remained unexplained by the Minister of Finance, Sili Epa despite being questioned in Parliament last Thursday.

The issue was raised by the Member of Parliament for Anoama’a West, Lauofo Pierre Lauofo who quoted the Minister’s Budget speech where the Minister said that the $1.9 million is paid to CSL for the ownership of the domain service name of Samoa.

“On page 17 of the Parliamentary Finance Committee report, it says the $1.9 million is paid to CSL on a monthly basis,” said Lauofo.

The former Deputy Prime Minister said if the report is correct, then he believed the amount was very high considering the time frame it is paid to CSL.

He said Government should consider placing CSL under the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) to save costs.

When responding to issues questioned by Members of Parliament, the Minister did not make reference to Lauofo’s question and the Budget was later passed by parliament.

In the 2018/2019 Budget Report, Sili highlighted the importance of technology in the development of the public sector hence the emphasis on the public sector reform.

He said times have changed and ways of working have changed and the public sector employees are now working with computers, emails and mobile phones to communicate.

“If we do not make the best use of new technology to improve efficiency and if we continue to do things the way we have always done things, we are just wasting money,” said Sili.

With reference to the Parliamentary Finance Committees report, CSL receives $22.8 million a year, more than what 7 other Government Ministries are getting individually from this year’s budget.

Part of a $2.8million allocation in the 2018/19 Budget under the Ministry of Finance is for payment of an outstanding debt to the American Samoa based ASH Cable by Computer Services Limited.

KHJ News reported earlier this year that the debt was more than $US1million owed to ASH cable for the use of their DS3 cable for internet connections between the two Samoas and beyond.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi told KHJ News then that it was “common sense” that government step in and do it.