National Provident Fund slammed for not being transparent

The Samoa National Provident Fund (S.N.P.F.) has come under criticism for not releasing information on the investments it has made on behalf of its contributors.

Member of Parliament for Salega, Olo Fiti Vaai, said the confidentiality clause should not apply to investment decisions made by the S.N.P.F. Management and Board.

He was commenting on revelations by the Samoa Observer early this month that the Fund gave a $22 million convertible loan to the Taumeasina Development Corporation, which owns the Taumeasina Island Resort and is a Papua New Guinea (P.N.G.)-owned company.

“It is our money, these monies do not belong to the N.P.F. it is public money, so when the C.E.O. says information is confidential it is totally wrong and stupid. The public has every right to know where the investments are made and how much are these investments," he said, in an interview with this newspaper. 

The Fund's Chief Executive Officer, Pauli Prince Suhren, told this newspaper early this month that all information relating to the Taumeasina Development Corporation convertible loan were confidential. 

But Olo refused to accept the position of the C.E.O. and said the Fund should be transparent in its dealings using contributors' funds.

“It is very simple Mr C.E.O. it is our money, we want you to be transparent about where it is being invested. Sadly, we only find out when it is being published in the Samoa Observer, especially the multi-million loan to a foreign company."

Making it clear he’s not against the convertible loan, the M.P. said keeping it under wraps is unacceptable. 

“Again the issue here is transparency. There were reports about the loan but they were denied from the beginning and some five years later it has come out,” he added. 

Furthermore, the M.P. pointed to various N.P.F. equity investments which totalled $46.85 million for the previous financial year. 

“The S.N.P.F. owns 67 per cent of shares with Computer Services Limited; 50 per cent of shares in C.S.L Mobile Limited; 54 per cent shares in Aggie Grey’s Beach Resort and Spa at Mulifanua, and 20 per cent in Samoa Submarine Cable Company. 

“As I was going through the article on the investments, the C.E.O. said the rate of return is three per cent. Again, where is the transparency in this? The common people like us from the rural areas and Savaii want to know the dollar amount of this,” he said. 

The Fund's C.E.O. has been contacted for comment, but did not respond at the time of going to press. 

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