The Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, has denied claims his new office’s refurbishment cost the public half a million tala.
“That is absolutely not right,” Sili told the Weekend Observer. “It’s a standard office with a meeting room and space for my secretary.
“The office is a part of the Central Bank’s renovation upgrading in its 6th and 7th floors.”
Sili’s office is in the sixth floor.
He said he had just settled in his new office located on the 6th floor of the Central Bank of Samoa building on Beach Road.
Sili denied that the office costs more than the half a million luxury office of the former Minister of Finance, Faumuina Tiatia Liuga, on the second floor of the SNPF Plaza. Asked how much it cost for his new office renovation, the Minister said it was best to ask the C.B.S. Governor who handled the works.
According to Sili, since he started his Ministerial term, he was working in a small temporary office.
Glad that he is settling in the new office space, Sili said part of the reason why he does not have a secretary is because the temporary office was too small.
He explained the meeting room was necessary and convenient during Ministerial and tenders board meetings that he is Chairperson.
“Instead of us looking for a meeting room in Finance its best for us to have that room,” he said.
“Now that I have a permanent office the next challenge for me is to find a secretary. I was working in a small temporary office and I had used the Finance and Governor’s secretary because we are all in the same floor.”
Sili added that he does most of his research and not having a secretary was not a problem for him.
In response to an email from the Weekend Observer, Governor Maiava Atalina Enari did not specifically say how much the office works cost.
However, she explained; “we have about 4 tenants in our building and they are Ministry of Finance (our biggest tenant), Ombudsman, Ministry of Public Enterprises, World Bank and ADB Offices and Intertrust”.
Maiava stressed that the C.B.S. building is over 20 years old. She said; “You can imagine that the building is getting old and a lot of areas need to be renovated and to continually upgrade and refurbished to provide quality space for tenants.
“The current renovations are not specifically for the Minister’s office,” she said.
“Its renovation for the whole of Level 6 that has the Governor’s office, C.E.O. Finance and office for Minister of Finance. On the other side of Level 6 is the conference room that is usually hired out to other Ministries and government agencies for their workshops and seminars while the other side has the offices for Governor, C.E.O. Finance and Minister of Finance.”
Furthermore the Governor said all the rooms in Level 6 are occupied and has two small meeting rooms used by the tenants.
“This is not the only renovation work being carried out at the moment,” said Maiava.
“Work is now underway at Level 7 to renovate the offices of the World Bank and A.D.B,” she said. She added: “We also plan to replace the elevators because the old elevators of the building having multiple problems.”