The decision to remove Pepe Christian Fruean as the Chairman of the Electric Power Corporation (E.P.C.) has not yet been finalised.
This is according to Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi.
Contrary to a letter sent by Minister of E.P.C, Papali’itele Niko Lee Hang, informing Pepe that he is no longer the Chairman of E.P.C. Board, Tuilaepa said the matter is still under consideration.
Minister Papali’i’s letter was leaked to the Sunday Samoan.
Dated 4 January 2018, it reads: “I had been instructed by the Honourable Prime Minister today to inform you about a change to your role as Chairman for the E.P.C. Board.
“You will now be transferred to join the Samoa Airways Board of Director as a member, as the Honourable Prime Minister and I strongly believe that your vast expertise in management, finance and economics is more relevant to our new Samoa Airways Company than E.P.C.”
Asked to elaborate on the decision, Prime Minister Tuilaepa said Pepe is in New Zealand and when he returns, they will discuss the matter.
“I have a note for a meeting (with him) upon his return,” he said.
Several attempts to contact Pepe for a comment have not been successful.
On 22 December 2017, a letter from Tuilaepa, also leaked to the Sunday Samoan, was critical of the way Pepe has been running the Board at E.P.C.
“You are so busy that you have micromanaged the E.P.C,” reads a translation of the Prime Minister’s letter.
“The government could be sued for liability worth millions of dollars as a result of projects that have been stopped by the Board.”
The Prime Minister’s letter does not detail what the projects are.
But he did not mince words in his instructions to the Chairman.
“This is a directive now,” he wrote. “Bring all the matters to Cabinet who will make the final decision.”
Asked about the tone of his letter, Tuilaepa said the issue is an ongoing discussion.
“The matter is premature (and the leaking of the letter) has ruined the civility because we have not made a final decision yet."
“We have to discuss the matter internally. What has happened is that the government’s process has been destroyed by the person who leaked the letter prior to the final decision."
“That is why I am cautious with the leaking of documents when we have not yet finalized the decision.”
Tuilaepa added that these matters are sensitive.
He told the reporter, “Remember when you came to ask me about the decision on the Head of State and I told you that the decision has not been finalized?"
“I was technically correct. Despite the fact that we already made the decision, it’s not official unless the motion is approved.”
The Prime Minister added that “there are sensitive matters in terms of the government’s decision and that is why we are cautious with the leaked documents."
“The end result only humiliates people,” he said.
Last week, E.P.C.'s General Manager, Tologatā Tile Tuimaleali'ifano said he wasn’t aware about the proposed change.
He said they have not received an official word from Cabinet that the Chairman of the E.P.C. Board has been replaced.
“Our Chairman is overseas and we have not received any official word about that,” Tologata said.
“As far as I know, Pepe is still the Chairman for E.P.C."
“As for the letters you had mentioned from the Minister and the Prime Minister that is between them. We have not been officially informed about any changes.”
Queried about projects Tuilaepa was referring to in his letter, Tologata declined to comment.
“I cannot comment on that again until we receive an official word about what is going on.”
Tologata also wondered how the letters were leaked to the Sunday Samoan.
“And how did you get your hands on those letters? For now I cannot comment until we receive an official word.”