Treasurer and Budget Director fully confirmed by both Senate & House
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Fono has officially confirmed the first two cabinet directors of the Lemanu Administration following separate confirmation hearings and votes in both the Senate and House. Both confirmation votes were made yesterday in both chambers.
In the Senate, Malemo Lafoia Tausaga was confirmed as ASG Treasurer in a 17-1 vote while Catherine A. Saelua was confirmed as director of the Office of Program, Planning and Budget in a unanimous endorsement of 18-0.
At the House, Malemo’s confirmation vote was 17-1 while Saelua received a vote of 16-2.
Prior to the Senate vote, the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee held separate confirmation hearings earlier in the day for the Treasurer and Budget director. Each hearing lasted less than 15-minutes with senators offering advise and commending the governor for nominating the pair to continue their service in government.
Malemo, a former Budget Office director, served as deputy secretary of Samoan Affairs in the Lolo Administraton, which is the same administration that Saelua has served as Budget Office director since 2013. Senators also acknowledged that the qualifications of both nominees are not in question.
During Malemo’s confirmation hearing, Sen. Tuiagamoa Tavai asked if the nominee was picked by the governor for the post or “you wanted” this job. Malemo — who chaired the Lemanu and Talauega campaign committee — responded that the selection process of cabinet directors was made solely by the governor and the lieutenant governor.
Tuiagamoa said he has fully read Malemo’s resume which shows years of government service and also indicates a lot of experience in campaigning.
In response, Malemo — who had in the past served also as Budget Office director, said that the Heavenly Father provided him with the knowledge and experience not only to serve in campaigning but also in government.
Sen. Magalei Logovi’i — a former ASG Treasurer — thanked Malemo for accepting the governor’s nomination as Treasurer, a job that is not easy. Magalei asked Malemo to provide for the Senate the latest government revenue versus expenditures report for review.
Many of the senators who spoke offered advise to Malemo, and also wished him the best if fully confirmed by the Fono.
For Saelua’s confirmation hearing, she was also asked to provide ASG financial reports.
Sen. Fai’ivae Iuli Godinet reminded senators that the director-nominee is one of the women who has served in government for many years and has been summoned several times in the past 8 years to testify in the Senate.
The statement was echoed by Tuiagamoa who pointed out that Saelua has been appointed by the new Administration for the same post, because the new leaders trust in her to continue serving ASG.
In the House of Representations their confirmation hearings were held Tuesday. And Samoa News will report later on several issues faipule raised with the newly confirmed cabinet members.
Four more director-nominees were introduced in the Senate on Tuesday this week and assigned to the appropriate committees for confirmation hearings, which are set for next week. The governor submitted each nominee to the Fono through a cover letter along with a resume:
• Evelyn Lili’o Satele as director of the Territorial Administration on Aging (TAOA). “In addition to holding bachelor and master’s degrees in education leadership,” Lemanu said the nominee “has over 30 years of experience in education.” Most recently, she has served as TAOA director.
• Matautu Dr. Peter Tinitali as director of the Office of Protection and Advocacy for the Disabled (OPAD). Lemanu said Matautu has served as director for this agency for the last seven years and prior to that, he had decades of experience in education.
• Dr. Salote Aoelua-Fanene as director of the Department of Youth & Women’s Affairs. According to the governor, Dr. Aoelua-Fanene has experience as an educator and juvenile corrections officer. She has most recently served as an education consultant for the American Samoa Alliance Against Domestic & Sexual Violence. (As previously reported by Samoa News the director-nominee is currently off island for medical reasons and traveled to Honolulu on the Jan. 13th Medicaid charter.)
• Ti’alemasunu Dr. Mikaele Etuale as chief procurement officer, who is also in charge of the Office of Procurement. Lemanu said the director-nominee has years of experience in administration in the public sector including acting as vice president of Administration and Finance at the American Samoa Community College.