He has been handed one of the most unenviable jobs in government but it’s also possibly he is the only Cabinet Minister capable of pulling it off.
As well as managing two important portfolios, he is starting to address the Government ‘stuff ups’ by incompetent Government Ministers and unskilled Departmental Heads of years past.
Lautafi Fio Selafi Joseph Purcell holds two portfolios as Minister of Commerce Industry and Labour and was handed the recently, established Ministry for Public Enterprises in a Cabinet reshuffle last June.
In his second term in parliament, the Satupaitea representative has obviously impressed the Prime Minister and a number of his colleagues with his no-nonsense approach to issues and his strong work ethic.
As well as a background in auditing, he has also worked extensively in New Zealand as a prison manager and consultant.
Other areas of responsibilities he has are Polynesian Airlines, the Accident Compensation Corporation, the Samoa Housing Corporation, the Samoa Sports Facilities Authority, the Audit Office and the beleaguered Samoa Land Corporation.
And it is this last corporation, Samoa Land which possibly presents his greatest, immediate challenge.
What he has in his favour is his habit of calling spade a spade or at the very least, a shovel and then getting on with the job.
He was probably the first H.R.P.P. member to publicly admit that the Vaitele Market was not the roaring success as extravagantly described by his colleague, Faumuina Liuga.
And while the subsequent lease to the owner of Coin Save caused mumblings in the community, there were not a lot of other viable options on the table which offered the promise of better returns.
He has also looked for opportunities for another ‘stuff up’ at the Faleata Golf Course, also coincidently, another project by his colleague Faumuina Liuga.
The multi million tala building and those who inhabited it became infamous for slack purchasing practices, dubious middlemen suppliers, overspending by the then minister Faumuina Liuga, non-collection of revenue, sale of land to S.L.C .employees at 60% of the market price, unsatisfactory and unauthorized tender systems. And let’s not mention the immovable escalator.
To date, there have been few serious offers and sadly the facility still stands empty.
And now, our very own Mr Fixit, has turned his attention to another epic fail by government and a waste of money in its present form – the Salelologa Market at Savaii which is starting to bleed money.
Once again, those who did the planning, if there was a plan, totally misread the place and failed to do a feasibility study or listen to the people who live there.
Lautafi has already pointed to mismanagement in his comments about revenue not being collected; he has also suggested the layout and allocation of sales areas and a bold plan of shifting governments services to the facility which will bring people there.
Meanwhile it is heartening to hear the present Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti constantly banging on about the importance of planning, sticking to your core business and services, risk management, taking care of the people’s money and following best business principles to ensure success and profitability.
It’s a refrain we are happy to hear particularly if it is adhered to by government and not just used as a popular phrase to be trotted out like those old favourites of yesteryear, ‘accountability’ and ‘transparency’.
In the meantime, after fixing Salelologa, there are still quite a few other Government ‘stuff ups’ that await Lautafi’s attention.
However, let’s leave those for another day.