Wednesday 6 September 2023 Apia Samoa. Just over two years since taking on the role as Samoa’s first woman Prime Minister, Hon Fiame Naomi Mata’afa has announced a Cabinet reshuffle that sees two new Ministers added to her Cabinet and a change to the country’s Minister of Finance.
Hon Mulipola Anarosa Ale Molioo who held the Finance portfolio will move to the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development, replaced by former Samoa Shipping Services CEO, Hon Lautimuia Uelese Vaai.
Lautimuia is the newest addition to the FAST caucus, having won the Vaimauga 3 seat in May 2023 after it was vacated by the passing of Hon Papalii Niko Lee Hang. In addition to Finance, Lautimuia also takes over the Labour Mobility Unit of the Ministry of Commerce Industry and Labour. This is the unit that coordinates the seasonal worker schemes.
Hon Leota Laki Lamositele Sio, who had previously held the Women, Community and Social Development portfolio, will move to take up the Ministry of Commerce, Industry of Labour.
MCIL as a Ministry administers 36 separate legislations under the extensive industry portfolio that ranges from foreign investment, to company and incorporated societies registries, occupational health & safety, copyright, consumer protection, the personal prooerties registry and food security through the Codex rules.
Under its Labour mandate MCIL oversees Samoa’s labour and employment relations laws that includes the tripartite forum, decent work policies, ratified international labour conventions and the apprenticeship scheme.
The reshuffle separates MCIL from Hon Leatinuu Wayne Sooialo who had been carrying both MCIL and the Ministry of Public Enterprises.
Leatinuu retains the Ministry of Public Enterprises (MPE) which overlooks the performance of a whopping 27 State Owned Enterprises, including 15 Public Trading Bodies, 10 Public Beneficial Bodies and two Public Mutual Bodies.
The MPE plays a vital role to ensure all Government Public Bodies comply with the Public Bodies (Performance & Accountability) Act. The MPE was established with a focus to not only improve financial performance and compliance of all Public Bodies, but to enhance essential services to the public, given most operate as monopolies.
The second new Minister to make up a Cabinet of 15 is Hon Laumatiamanu Ringo Purcell of Safata 2, who becomes Samoa’s first ever Minister for Sports & Recreation.
A former student of Saint Joseph’s College, Laumatiamanu was a policeman for 20 years, making his way up to the rank of senior sergeant before he left the force. He then worked at the Samoa Shipping Corporation for over 10 years before taking up a role as a security advisor for JICA.
The Prime Minister takes over the Tourism portfolio from Hon Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster, while Toeolesulusulu retains the Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment, and inherits all things land. Toeolesulusulu currently has the Samoa Land Board, and will receive the Samoa Trust Estates Corporation and the Samoa Land Corporation to ensure land related portofolios are all under one umbrella, explained the Prime Minister.
“We have reached 25 months since Government came into office and this is a time to review what we have been able to achieve and to look into the future in the second half of the term,” said Fiame during the special announcement on Wednesday afternoon.
In announcing the reshuffle two and a half years out from the end of the term, the Prime Minister said she has been mindful of the priorities that her government needs to address and some of the new developments that are needed to be implemented.
“The reshuffling of the Cabinet was determined at today’s Cabinet meeting.. and I wish to advise that we have two additional new ministers to Cabinet,” said the Prime Minister.
In moving from a Cabinet of 13 to 15, the Prime Minister stated that Samoa’s Constitution provides for a Cabinet of 15, “so the addition of two Ministers as determined today, will fulfill that provision of the Constitution.”
The Prime Minister said the reshuffle will come into force from the 01st of October, however, the affected Ministries will work on the required transition from tomorrow onwards.