Members Upset at Committee Chairman Lavea Legaee Mauga

The confirmation hearing for Treasurer Ueligitone Tonumaipe’a had several lawmakers expressing disappointment with the interference on questions by Committee Chairman Rep. Lavea Legaee Mauga.

Tension started to build up when freshman faipule Sataua Dr. Mataese Samuelu asked a hypothetical question to the Treasurer in regards to the eligibility of customs agents to testify in drug cases.

Noting the number of recent drug busts, Sataua asked Tonumaipe’a if he wants the Fono to make amendments to the law so that customs agents may also testify in such cases.

Sataua said customs agents should be able to take the witness stand in cases where they make first contact in drug cases that are later turned over to police.

Without giving the chance for the witness to respond, Committee Chairman Lavea announced that while the question is a good one, Tonumaipe’a need not respond.

According to Mauga, the question should be answered by Chief of Customs Moetulu’i Fuiava Sipili , who was observing from the House gallery along with Deputy Treasurer Tina Va’a.

Rep. Faimealelei Allen was concerned with the Committee Chairman’s repeated notion that the Committee only needed to confirm the director and bring him back at a later time to answer questions.

Rep. Faimealelei also asked if directors who fail confirmation can still travel in the governor’s delegation that’s attending off-island meetings.

He said the trip has been mentioned repeatedly and he felt members were being pressured to vote on the cabinet members quickly due to the pending trip.

Faimealelei was concerned about the House’s integrity.

He told Chairman Lavea hat while he has the authority to conduct the hearing the way he wants to, Faimealelei’s pen decides whether or not the director nominee is confirmed.

FetuiSpeaker Fetu Fetui Jr. was not at all impressed with the way the Committee chairman conducted the hearing and told Lavea, if he’s going to give chances to one member, he should allow questions from everyone.

Tonumaipe’a responded to Representative Faimealelei Allen’s inquiry about the status of the rapid scanners which arrived in the territory late last year.

ASG used $6 million of the ASEDA bond money to purchase four scanners, two of which are not yet operational.

Faimealelei said if the government has invested such a large amount of money to buy the rapid scanners, this equipment should be generating revenues.faimealelei

Tonumaipea said initially, $10 million was to be spent on the scanners but because of the Fono’s concerns, $2.9 million was give to the LBJ Hospital.‘

He said the change delayed the purchase of the scanners from England.

For the first time. the Treasurer revealed that the scanner supplier, upon hearing of the change sold some of the scanners to other customers.

Tonumaipe’a reported that company reps will be here Monday to hook up the other two scanners, before an official handing over ceremony next week.

Faimealelei also asked Tonumaipe’a what he thought of a sales tax to generate revenue.

The Treasurer nominee said he needed more time to consider the mater before giving his opinion.

A House confirmation vote for Tonumaipea should come tomorrow.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,