When things change

By Enid Westerlund 01 June 2023, 1:00PM

There is hope in the air as we celebrate Independence day today. Well done to Samoa for keeping the peace in the last few years and keeping her head above water during Covid, political controversies and all the things that make her tick.

It hasn’t been an easy time for our small island nation but we have managed to keep on floating and continue developing. If we go searching the world for reasons to not belong, we will always find them but if we put on our understanding glasses with open minds, we will be surprised at what we see and find. I truly believe this.

How are you celebrating our freedom? Are you marching today with friends and colleagues? If you are, enjoy all the day has to offer. I woke up earlier this week to a myriad of complaints about the NPF board making changes to contributions, entitlements and short term loans. I do not have all the information as to what brought this on other than the old CEO will not be reappointed again. Malo lava le tautua Pauli Prince Suhren, you have been a great young leader and I commend you for your hard work. Of course, having a billion dollar entity speaks of the decisions that have been made throughout different leadership and it takes great minds to continue that work when you are in a position of power. Money does make the world go round and lack thereof results to many pit falls.

When I read the complaints from friends and relatives, my first question was whether there was any public consultation or communication from management to NPF members before their announcement. I am guessing that did not happen and people were disappointed in the way it was handled. If you are going to reach into someone else’s pocket, make sure you have their permission or at least aware of what is to happen. The more transparent you are in sharing information at the right time, the more informed and understanding your clients will be. After all, it is their money and have a right to know ahead of time of what, why, where, who when. Simple communication can address a multitude of problems.

There were many angry comments and calling on the removal of board members and I understand their reaction. Anger is a reaction to fear, worry and uncertainty.

Share the information at the right time, meaning, share before you make decisions that have a ripple effect especially for our people who rely heavily on their NPF contributions for fa’alavelave, school fees and every other emergency. For many, it is a safety net no matter what their earning is. It is easier than trying to get a loan from any of the commercial banks and money is deposited directly into a bank account of your choice. If the changes were communicated earlier, people will have time to process and respond accordingly.

Money changes people and money is a complex topic. Try telling your spouse that you will make decisions by yourself when it comes to your joint account. What will be their instant reaction? Probably a heated argument that can turn violent.

Agreement is a powerful tool when it comes to two parties. Without that, things will not be good. Resentment, anger and disappointment are only found at the end of that road. We know better, so we do better.

When the NPF board cancelled their press conference a few days after, I can almost hear a collective sigh of relief and then ‘what’s next’? There is a lesson in all of this. First communicate any changes to the people involved. Second, make sure you do it in a proper manner, face to face and not relying on a mouthpiece or third party to post it on social media. Third, be open to questions from the parties and answer honestly. Do not hide information from the people who are directly affected, this just makes things harder and more stressful. While we enjoy another week of festivities, think of these things and enjoy responsibly.

By Enid Westerlund 01 June 2023, 1:00PM
Samoa Observer

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