Two more members of Development Bank board confirmed
The Senate yesterday confirmed two more members of the Development Bank of American Samoa board of directors, with a vote of 10-3 for Fiapa’ipa’i Fruean, who previously served on the board, and Gi Malala in a 13-0 vote.
Local law states that the affairs of DBAS must be managed and its corporate powers exercised by a board, which consists of ten members, nine of whom are to be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate only. The DBAS president is a non voting ex officio member of the board who may not serve as chairman.
In April this year, the Senate confirmed the nominations of Senate President ProTemp Nua Saoluaga, House Vice Speaker Talia Faafetai Iaulualo, Leapei Fa’aola, and Malepeai Setu to the board.
The three other board members, whose terms are still current: Taiulagi Mauga, Samana Semo Ve’ave’a and Seti Lopa Seti.
Prior to the Senate vote, Gi and Fruean appeared earlier in the day for their Senate confirmation hearing, which last for about 45 minutes with Sen. Galeai Tu’ufuli saying the board plays a vital role in the bank’s work to help families, especially those in the low income level.
He says many of these families are in dire need of financial assistance to make improvements to their homes and with the new Lolo administration theme, ‘People First’, that should be the board’s guide to helping “people first” to improve their homes and their lives.
This was also echoed by Sen. Alo Fa’auuga who added the board should give “equal treatment” for all applicants.
Sen. Laolagi F.S. Vaeao informed the nominees the Lolo administration’s final budget of fiscal year 2014 includes $1 million earmarked to DBAS to help the private sector. He also said there is federal funding through the block grant program from the Commerce Department that should provide an additional source of funding to help the territory.
According to the governor, the $1 million allocation is to stimulate the economic activity in the private sector by making venture capital financing loans thru DBAS and this will increase DBAS’ capacity to issue loans to locally owned businesses.
During the Senate hearing, Sen Mauga T. Asuega was joined by other senators in urging the nominees as well as the entire board to do all possible to help the community and to allocate necessary funds available for families who are in need of financial assistance to rebuild or build new homes.
Sen. Faumuina Tagisiaali’i brought up the point that there have been complaints about applicants not being treated equally and that some applicants are favored over others. He believes a fair policy should be implemented.
Fruean responded that there is no truth to these claims, saying that there are a lot of loan applications, which are reviewed on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Gi told senators that because he is a new nominee, he has not been fully briefed on the financial status of the bank except for media reports that DBAS faced losses in FY 2012, but he believes that banks are not in the business of losing money. He says DBAS is a “valuable asset” of the government.
(Samoa News notes that senators did not bring up DBAS loans being given to DBAS board members when the issue of 'fair policy' was discussed.)
DBAS financial statement audit for FY2012—which covers up to Dec. 31, 2012— states in part that the bank reported an operating loss of $1.04 million on an asset base of $21.74 million as compared with an operating loss of $803,729 on an asset base of $22.30 million in FY 2011. The full audit report is posted on the DBAS website [www.dbas.org]
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