Board members’ qualifications in spotlight

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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Olo Fiti Vaai.

Olo Fiti Vaai. (Photo: Samoa Observer)

Member of Parliament Olo Fiti Vaai has questioned the qualifications of people sitting on ministry boards, saying their lack of expertise is costing taxpayers a lot of money.

Zooming in on some lawsuits which have been filed against the Government, the MP said the incompetency of board members led to some of these court proceedings.

“These are a result of incompetent decision made by the board members. I cannot divulge their identity for now, but soon it will come out. The Samoa Government should have special qualifications for members of the public hired as board members,” he said.

“They play a vital role in daily works of the Government ministries. At the end of the day, they are the ones who make the final decision. The same decisions will have an impact, not only on the Ministry but also the Government as a whole.”

The Government had assured the public that appointments to the various ministry boards will be based on merit. But Olo Fiti has alleged that there are no merit-based appointments to ministry boards.

“Initially we were told the board members would be appointed based on their qualification – so far that has not happened. If that statement was accurate, we wouldn’t be facing the problems we are facing now. For example, accountants should be appointed to the board that deals with finances alone, engineers appointed to the infrastructures, which deals directly with engineering works.”

A board membership should comprise people who are specialised in their fields to guard the Government against bad decisions according to Olo Fiti.

“My point is when the right people are allocated to their fields and when the decisions are made, it is solid, given the knowledge of the members who made the decisions will not back fire. Some issues that have occurred lately are the lack of understanding of board members to the issues then they make decision which they think are right, yet in the end it is the wrong decision.” 

As an example Olo Fiti highlighted a 2004 National Provident Fund case with local firm Apia Construction and Engineering Limited, where the Samoa Court of Appeal ordered that the Government pay $2 million to the company last year.

“Now I understand the case has been appealed, more than once, but to avoid Government resources and what not again is to hire qualified board members to ministries need on their qualifications. It is that simple,” he said.

The remuneration of the ministry board members also came under scrutiny with Olo Fiti decrying a salary of $18,500 for a board member and $22,500 for the chair, which he said was not justified and should be revisited. 

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