Time for an Inquiry into S.N.P.F. The buck stops with the C.E.O.

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Dear Editor,

As a contributor to the Samoa National Provident Fund (S.N.P.F.) like every other hard working Samoan, I am appalled and disappointed at the latest reports in your paper about the lack of accountability and transparency by the management of the N.P.F.

I am particularly disappointed about the conduct of the Chief Executive Officer and her response to the matters raised.

 Her reply to your paper about ethics and conflicts of interest at their Board Level is nonsense and a very poor excuse of. She wrote: “if there is a conflict a Board member he/she is asked to leave the meeting room while other board members discuss the topics of the conflict then he/she is allowed back into the board room to continue with the meeting and the agenda at hand.” 

Common sense prevails here that of course the C.E.O and the other Board members will be influenced and will ultimately approve what their fellow board member is asking for? Who are we trying to fool here? 

A prime example of this are all the properties at Vaitele and elsewhere that a certain Board member of the Board of the N.P.F has managed to secure while they have sat on the board of directors of the Fund. Regardless of the Prime Minister coming out in his weekly Press Conference to say all is above board, how can the sale and lease of these prime assets, which belong to the contributors of the fund, be leased and sold like they have to a Board member and into a family with connections to another very senior member of Parliament?

Where is the transparency and accountability? And how can you say there is no “conflict of interest”? Were these properties and assets advertised at all? If not, why were they not offered for other contributors to tender for?

Samoa is a small country. Everyone knows who is connected to whom. 

So you tell me if there is a conflict of interest here when assets of the fund have been leased and sold like they have to the Board themselves and extended families of the board including members of parliament?

Another prime example of this is the old Meredith property at Matautu which the S.N.P.F. foreclosed on.  

It is rumoured to have been sold for $2.5miliom when the market value of a property like that ranges between $5m and $6m at the lowest. 

The last advertisement where this property was being sold by the S.N.P.F. was $3million plus. Why was it not advertised and re-tendered if it was the low price agreed to by the C.E.O. Some of us contributors would have enjoyed tendering for the prime piece of real estate.

As far as I can see, the buck in this matter stops with the C.E.O. Questions really need to be asked about the Board room dealings and the issue of conflicts of interest. At the end of the day, there is perception about a conflict of interest. Regardless of what they say, she cannot ignore the fact there is a glaring conflict of interest there, especially when it’s not just one property but at least three prime estates that belong to the S.N.P.F.

Interestingly, I see that the position of C.E.O is being advertised. 

I wonder if this had any bearing on the dealings we are talking about? The C.E.O has a duty to do what’s best for the contributors contributing every month. That should be her priority instead of putting the interests of the Board first.

These land deals don’t reflect very well on her and her management style. 

Now that the public is aware of the land leases and sales as has been exposed by your newspaper, I urge the Prime Minister and Cabinet to urgently clean out the management of the Fund.

They need to appoint an independent Committee to investigate these sales of assets and how they have been carried out. They need to find out how S.N.P.F. members like myself are benefitting from the deals. 

As for the C.E.O., she has been there for nine years now. That’s a long, long time.

In all fairness to the contributors, it’s time for her to look elsewhere. It’s time for a new C.E.O. to come up with some new ideas and hopefully he/she will be a lot more accountable and transparent with these deals.

 

Tagilefatu Ileoi 

Disappointed S.N.P.F member

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