FONO REPORT — SPECIAL SESSION BUSINESS
Allowing the government owned Territorial Bank of American Samoa to provide “trust services” and approval of members to government boards was some of the final work the Fono carried out last week during its special session that commenced Tuesday and officially closed Thursday.
Last month the Senate approved its version of the Trust Services bill from the governor and the final action, endorsing the bill that was made by the House last Thursday. With no changes by the Fono, the governor is expected to sign the measure into law soon.
According to the governor, trust powers allow the bank to act on behalf of parties in their interest; and this includes but is not limited to managing real and personal property, acting as an executor or administer of estates, and dealing as an agent in stocks and bonds on behalf of another.
Approved last Thursday by the Senate are members to two ASG boards — the Development Bank of American Samoa board and the Board of Registration for Professional Surveyors.
In accordance with local law, board members of both boards need only Senate confirmation. During the hearing, each board member received a unanimous vote and each is appointed to a term of two years.
The board members are Sen. Nuanuaolefeagaiga Saoluaga Nua, Muagututia Lepei Fa’aola, Fiapaipai Fruean, Gi Malala, Vaiausia Yandall, Eseta Sataua, Rev. Fred Mamea and Rep. Timusa Tini Lam Yuean.
During the confirmation many of the Senate committee’s questions were directed to Nuanuaolefeagaiga, who has been board chair for the last four years. Among the issues raised was the concern that everyone be treated equally when it comes to loans being approved.
Sen. Paepae Iosefa Faiai used the opportunity to voice his concerns over the board’s approval of a loan to Tausani Airways, which the senator didn’t identify by name.
He said DBAS should have conducted a thorough review on the background of the Guam firm from which the local company was supposed to purchase their two planes.
Paepae, who worked in the airline industry for many years, said the Guam company, from which the local company was supposed to purchase two planes, is bankrupt and the Guam company only operated planes that are four-seaters or six-seaters, not sufficient for Manu’a flights.
He also said the local company is not operating and it’s unclear as to how it will repay the loan.
According to DBAS they are working with their attorney to collect the loan proceeds — $250,000 — already distributed to Tausani Airline. (See Samoa News edition Mar. 24 for details)
Sen. Tuaolo Manaia Fruean brought up the delay of the Territorial Bank of American Samoa getting a transit routing number from the Federal Reserve due to FCC concerns of possible ASG influence, and encouraged the DBAS board to ensure there is no outside influence on their decision-making.
He said Paepae has raised concerns in the way the Tausani Airlines’ loan was done and it appears there was outside influence, which should never have happened, as the board needs to be independent in all its decisions.
Board of Registration for Professional Surveyors members approved are Taulapapa William Sword, William Spitzberg, Viiga Peseta Sa Mavaega and Fa’i Mareko.
Among its powers and duties, according to local law, is the board of professional surveyors qualifies all persons who shall practice the profession of land surveying; and receive applications for certificates of registration and issue such certificates to those who meet its qualifications.
The Fono is now in recess and won’t return until the mid July for the 2nd regular session of the 35th Legislature.