Staff Grievances against SNPF Chairman to be Investigated

"The question is whether Papali’i lent these monies in accordance with guidelines and processes already in place."

0
627

By: Jasmine Netzler-Iose Government Press. The allegations brought against Chairman of the Samoa National Provident Fund, Papali’i Panoa Tavita Moala by its management will be investigated.

This was confirmed by Minister of Finance Lautimuia Afoa Uelese Vaai in an interview with Government media.

Cabinet has directed the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Public Enterprises to work together on the investigation, said Lautimuia.

Check out Faamati Specials at SOS Togafuafua and Salelologa.

“MOF and MPE lawyers are working together and the Attorney General’s advice has also been sought before the investigation goes ahead.. and when that is final a recommendation will be presented to Cabinet for a decision moving forward”.

The allegations against Papalii Panoa involve the approval of $67 million tala to be loaned to 5 customers in a span of 9 months.

A letter written and signed by the Samoa National Provident Fund Management, demands answers from the Chairman, who had appointed himself Acting CEO in the absence of the SNPF CEO.

SNPF CEO Lemalu Selesitina Reti has been in New Zealand on medical treatment, prompting the Chair who is also a former CEO of NPF, to take over the reigns.

The Minister of Finance says temporary suspension of the SNPF Chair is a possibility under current policies and processes of carrying out investigations for grievances.

If this occurs, Lautimuia says it is for the protection of the rights of Papali’i as well as the rights of the Management who filed the grievances against their Chairman.

The Finance Minister says the SNPF Board and Management have the power to execute lending for businesses.

The main objective of an investigation is in the interests of contributors, and whether decisions lead to the best possible dividends to be paid out to contributors.

Samoa is the Home of Taula.

“The question is whether Papali’i lent these monies in accordance with guidelines and processes already in place.”

A policy is already in place to guide how funds are to be distributed and according to Lautimuia, these monies should not be given out in bulk but rather, in segments said Lautimuia.

“But, all these matters will be addressed in the investigation.”

Coffee Roaster in Togafuafua. The most bustling Café in town. Also serving your favorite Dilma teas.

INVESTIGATION

The Minister of Finance says the investigation should be carried out quickly to ensure it does not affect the daily operations of SNPF.

The allegations against Papali’i was brought to the Minister by the Management of the Fund, accompanied with a letter of concern.

The letter was directed towards the Chair of SNPF, raising Management’s concerns over some of the decisions made by Papali’i.

Lautimuia reiterated that under Samoa’s Public Finance Management Act – any person has the right to voice any concerns regarding public funds.

Lautimuia says he has been approached by the Fund’s Management as Minister for SNPF, and he will consider the concerns of staff against the Chair of the Fund.

The Minister says advice has been sought from lawyers of the Ministry of Finance, and the first recommendation ‘in the interest of natural justice’ was to write a letter to Panoa, and allow him to respond to the allegations.

Papali’i was given seven days to respond, and Lautimuia says he did comply and a response has been received.

CONTRIBUTORS AND THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS

In relation to questions addressed to the Minister on whether there would be any impact on contributions, Lautimuia said no.

He once again stressed that lending to businesses has long been a function of S.N.P.F. to earn interest that results in attractive dividends provided to contributors.

“It is part of their business jurisdiction under their constitution.”

In response to the HRPP Leaders comments about who should be the Chair of SNPF, Lautimuia said the new administration are moving away from a system where political influences get in way of the operations of the Fund.

Under HRPP the CEO of the Ministry of Finance had Chaired the SNPF Board.

Lautimuia said that in the previous Administration, many Boards were also chaired by Ministers, however, there was a lack of guidelines.

New changes executed by M.P.E. to ensure independence of Governing Boards led to Papali’is appointment as the elected Chair of the Fund.

“So the Terms of Reference and Duties of Care of Board of Directors is clear and laid down.”

Lautimuia said it is something that the Government could address though and if new changes do not achieve its desired outcomes, more changes could be made.

Photo: Leaosa Faaifo Faaifo