1 Aug 2006

Samoa's PM dismisses criticism of airline funding

1:49 pm on 1 August 2006

Samoa's prime minister has dismissed claims by the Leader of the Opposition that his government attempted to hide a 1.5 million US dollar capital injection for Polynesian Airlines.

The prime minister, Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, says the allocation of funds was clearly shown in the budget draft estimates and was given to all MPs including the opposition before the budget was debated in parliament.

After parliament was adjourned last week, the opposition leader, Le Mamea Ropati, said the money was not mentioned in the finance minister's address, as though the government wished it to be hidden from the public.

In response, the finance minister, Niko Lee Hang, said the expenditure item should have been included in his budget speech, but was not a serious matter because it was in the budget estimates.

Meanwhile, the prime minister says the capital injection for the airline is for the purchase of spare parts for the jet used for international services by the old Polynesian Airlines ahead of entering into a joint venture with Polynesian Blue.