“This person in question is not a driver. He’s the Assistant Secretary and part of his duties is to drive the Minister when necessary” – Papali’i John Taimalelagi
The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration (M.J.C.A.), Papali'i John Taimalelagi, has rejected claims of wrongdoing over the salary of an employee who drives the Minister’s vehicle as part of his duties.
Documents obtained by the Sunday Samoan shows the employee is paid $28,326.96 per annum, an amount which has raised eyebrows in the public service where most Ministerial drivers are paid less than $14,000 per annum.
The Minister of Justice and Courts Administration, Fa’aolesa Katopau Ainu’u, could not be reached for a comment.
But Chief Executive Officer Papali'i rejected claims that “nepotism” is involved.
“This person in question is not a driver,” he said.
“He’s the Assistant Secretary and part of his duties is to drive the Minister when necessary.”
Papali’i said he doesn’t understand why people are concerned.
“I don’t see an issue here,” he said.
“This man is not a driver and there is no nepotism in our Ministry."
“According to the F.K. from Cabinet, which approved his salary at that amount, he is the Assistant Secretary to the Minister.
“He doesn’t drive all the time, but he does when needed by the Minister.."
“The Ministerial support staff are approved by Cabinet and this employee is a qualified Secretary."
“We did not hire him, the Cabinet did and it came with a set salary, approved by Cabinet.”
Last week, several Ministerial drivers spoke with the Sunday Samoan about the matter.
“My starting rate was $9,000 when I started,” one driver said.
“I have been working for thirteen years and I am making $13,000 now. How can that happen?”
Another driver told the Samoa Observer he was unhappy with the salary given to someone who had just came on board last year, compared to him.
“I have been working for nearly twelve years and my pay is less than $14,000 a year. How do these things work?”