Rep. Fetu Fetui Jr. calls for salary increase for Sec. of Samoan Affairs
Cabinet directors are given “phone allowances” as part of their contract, along with their salaries, according to Budget and Planning Office director Catherine Aigamaua-Saelua during yesterday’s joint budget hearings, where some lawmakers suggested a pay hike for the Secretary of Samoan Affairs, Satele Galu Satele, Sr.
Satele, who oversees the Office of Samoan Affairs, was first up at yesterday’s budget hearing for his office, whose official name is the Department of Local Government.
Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie said Satele’s salary is only $60,000 annually compared to other directors whose departments have gone through budget hearings, who are making $65,000 to $70,000.
Gaoteote asked Aigamaua-Saelua if there are any other benefits, bonuses, or special allowances given to cabinet directors, because none are cited in any of the budget documents.
Aigamaua-Saelua, who is present during all budget hearings, revealed that all directors, in addition to their annual salary, are given “phone allowances” as part of their contract. She says the phone allowance is included in the “All Others” budget item but she didn’t have the exact amount for phone allowances.
The director’s response was followed by a call by Rep. Fetu Fetui Jr. to increase the Secretary of Samoan Affairs salary by $5,000 a year and this was supported by Sen. Tuiasina S. Esera, who suggested a $70,000 annual pay.
Tuiasina says Satale’s pay scale is only $5,000 more than the annual salaries of the three district governors — each making $55,000 a year. Sen. Mauga T. Asuega requested a government review for the Secretary of Samoan Affairs post, saying this was the same salary he received during his tenure as Secretary of Samoan Affairs a couple of years ago.
Samoa News should point out that Office of Samoan Affairs budget shows the annual salary for the deputy secretary is $55,000. Additionally, cabinet directors are gubernatorial appointees whose salaries are set by the sitting governor.
Department of Local Government’s total FY 2014 budget stands at $2.17 million, with 125 workers compared to FY 2013 budget of $2.01 million with the same number of employees.
During the hearing, Rep. Florence V. Saulo requested Satele to look at adding more village mayors for Tualauta county, the most populous county in the territory, especially in the Tafuna area with many business establishments.
Another issue raised was the Small Village Fund and Satele said this fund is currently administered by the Governor’s Office, which takes all requests for projects to be funded with this money.
The fund is listed under the Special Programs budget category and in FY 2014 $150,000 has been allocated for the fund. Justification of this allocation cited in the budget document states that at times, villages will need financial assistance for the purchase of materials to address village activities dealing with local water distribution systems, walkways, streams and rock walls.
“This fund accommodates these small village needs,” the document states.
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