12 Oct 2006

American Samoan gift giving under spotlight

4:18 pm on 12 October 2006

There are calls in American Samoa for a government policy to stop the practise of getting government employees to contribute towards an event outside of official duties.

The acting manager of the Airport division, Tavita Soli Fuimaono, has issued a memo asking staff for contributions for a title bestowing ceremony for the Port administration director, Tuitele Fofo Tuitele.

The memo asked staff for fine mats and donations from 10 to 50 US dollars.

Our correspondent in American Samoa Monica Miller says while it is a regular practise among families to give, in a job situation it oversteps official authority.

She says it happens all the time.

"They can do it informally but don't make it as part of official duties. And at cabinet level, even if a member of cabinet dies, then usually the chief of staff in the governor's office will call a meeting to say this is what we're going to contribute. So from the top all the way to the bottom, that's how pervasive it is."

Monica Miller says it is hard for employees to publicly disagree as there is a cultural expectation to follow authority and to go along with the majority.