Governor continues to build his Administration
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Through separate memorandums, Gov. Lemanu Peleti Palepoi Sialega Mauga appointed the acting Commissioner of the Office of Financial Institution, a police commissioner, and continued a panel first establish by the Lolo Administration to — among other things — review compliance of use of federal COVID-19 funds.
In a memo yesterday, the governor appointed Tuasivi John R. Marsh as acting Commissioner of the Office of Financial Institution (OFI) replacing Robert Ho Chee, who has served as Commissioner since OFI was first established by law some six years ago.
Local law states that OFI regulates all financial institutions in the territory, including but not limited to commercial banks, holding companies, credit unions, trust companies and retirement funds, consumer money lenders, money brokers, mortgage loan originators, collection agencies, money transfer services, debt settlement service providers and any ASG-owned financial and depository institution.
OFI is overseen by a Commissioner, who is appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Fono.
According to the governor, Marsh’s appointment is effective immediately and shall exercise the authority necessary to discharge the duties and general responsibility of the acting commission for OFI.
There is no word as to when the governor will send Marsh’s nomination to the Fono for confirmation.
In a Feb. 12th memo, the governor appointed Lefiti Falelauli’i Pese as Commissioner of Public Safety and he shall exercise the authority necessary to discharge the duties and general responsibility of the police commissioner.
The governor, at the outset of his new administration on Jan. 3rd, appointed Lefiti, who one of the local residents stranded off island due to the territory’s border closure, as acting police commission. Two weeks later, the governor appointed Fo’ifua Fo’ifua Jr., to serve as acting police commissioner, as Lefiti was off island.
Lefiti was among the 159 passengers who were quarantined for 14-days at Tradewinds Hotel and were finally released on Monday to join their families. Acting director of Human and Social Service, Muavaefa’atasi John Suisala was also among the quarantined passengers released Monday.
With the two cabinet-nominees back in the community, both the Senate and House will soon schedule their confirmation hearings in the coming days. The governor had already sent these two nominees to the Fono last month.
COMPLIANCE REVIEW COMMITTEE
In a memo last month, Lemanu continued the Compliance Review Committee, which was established in May last year by former Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga, and the panel was charged with ensuring American Samoa’s full compliance with spending of the millions of dollars of federal COVID-19 funding for the territory.
Lemanu tasked the restructured compliance committee to review expenses related to COVID-19 as well as all government contracts and employment actions from January 1, 2019 to a date yet to be determined.
The 10-member committee is chaired by the Governor’s chief of staff, Tuimavave Tauapa’i Laupola, while the other nine members are cabinet directors.
According to the governor, the committee is tasked with reviewing all actions, providing recommendations as well as implementing corrective actions “to ensure financial stability of our government.”
The committee was also provided a timeframe to provide its first report.
Lemanu, through a Feb. 5th directive, ordered the roll-back of pay adjustments made without justification in the budget, stating that such pay adjustments violate local law, as well as converting contract workers to career service employees without going through the merit process. (See Samoa News edition Feb. 10th for details.)
There’s been no public information from the Governor’s Office on whether the committee issued a latest report on ASG spending of federal COVID-19 funds, although the ASG Treasury has already submitted to the House a report on the spending of funds awarded under the federal CARES Act last year.
The Treasury report shows $75 million left unspent. (See Samoa News edition Feb. 10th for details.)