Senators today suggested court action, writing to the governor, and even calling on the treasurer to step down as options the Senate can take to address their disappointment with ASG’s use of a reprogramming measure from Fiscal Year 2013.
Late last year, the administration submitted a proposal to reprogram $4.3 million from ASG departments and agencies in the black to operations with overruns by the end of fiscal year 2013.
The bill, which the governor said would bring the government in compliance with the Anti-Deficiency Act, never made it out of the Fono.
Tresurer Falema’o Phil Pili repeatedly told a Senate hearing yesterday that the money has not been used and will be reported in the upcoming financial statements.
Additionally he said departments with overruns will also be reported.
But the Senate President said Falema’o should tell it like it is and say the $4.3 million is no more and this is based on financial reports from the government.
Gaoteote said the administration cannot claim it is trying to protect the government from the anti-deficiency law then turn around and break another law, which requires unexpended and unbudgeted funds to be re-appropriated by the Fono.
At today’s session, Senator Magalei said no doubt the government has violated the law.
He said the $4.3 milion should have been reported to the Fono for re-appropriation but up till now nothing has come from the administration.
He said the money has been used to balance the books for FY 2013 and auditors are going to see these figures change and question whose authority allowed this to happen.
He said the finger is going to point to the Fono but the Fono did not give such an authority.
Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee Laolagi Vaeao said he agrees with statements by Magalei, however he pointed out that in all the 12 years he’s been in the Fono, this was the first reprogamming proposal of this nature to be submitted by an administration.
He questioned, what about the previous years when those administrations were in violation of anti-deficiency laws?
Laolagi said the route to take would be to write to the governor and tell him that the Fono is aware that the administration is in violation of the law and this should no longer happen.
Senator Mauga Tasi Asuega said this kind of practice has happened many times in the past and if the Fono doesn’t put a stop to it now, then when? He said the Fono should act to protect the future of the territory.
Senator Alo Faauuga suggested that a bill be introduced seeking the removal of the treasurer.
Senator Nua Saoluaga said one clear way to resolve this is to take the matter to court.
He said the Fono has gotten used to the practice of administrations using government funds first and seeking permission later.
He said perhaps the Fono should have acted on the reprogramming measure.
At the end of the discussion, Senate President Gaoteote Palaie said he will write to the governor and tell him that the government is violating the law and the Fono is aware of it.
He said the administration is also aware of what they did and they should act to correct it by submitting legislation concerning the reprogramming.