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Four TBAS board members confirmed — 1 more to go

Ruth Matagi-Fa’atili and Olivia C. Reid

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Development Bank of American Samoa president, Ruth Matagi-Fa’atili and G.H.C. Reid & Company LTD, president and co-owner Olivia C. Reid were up for confirmation yesterday, to be members of the Territorial Bank of American Samoa's Board of Directors.

Later during the Senate session, Matagi-Fa'atili and Reid were confirmed along with two other nominees — Steven Watson and Leilua Stevenson — who went through their confirmation hearing two weeks ago.

The only nominee left to be confirmed is local businessman Manu’a Chen who is off island, according to information presented to the Senate when the hearings were scheduled last week.

Each board member is appointed for a 4-year term. Watson, who is the Governor’s chief legal counsel, and Matagi-Fa’atili are re-appointed to the board.

Lt. Gov. Lemanu Palepoi Sialega Mauga, in his nomination letter to Fono leaders, noted that the five nominees would join current members Papa’ali’i Laulii Alofa and Salaia Gabbard.

“All of these [five] individuals have extensive experience in the business, finance, or banking fields. Their combined expertise will help guide TBAS at this crucial time of growth,” Lemanu said, adding that he is “confident that these nominees are an asset to the TBAS board.”

During yesterday’s confirmation hearing for Matagi-Fa’atili and Reid, two main issues were raised by senators — privatization of TBAS and the bank not being insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

The first to raise both issues was Sen. Nuanuaolefeagaiga Saoluaga Nua. The Manu’a Senator claimed that residents are not banking with TBAS because it's not FDIC insured and it's not a private bank.

Reid said perhaps it's the governor’s intention to privatize the bank down the road, as she has read it in the news as well. She added that there are also challenges faced by private and FDIC insured banks.

“There are pros and cons,” said Reid, whom — according to her resume — was a board member from 1996- 2000 for Amerika Samoa Bank. And then served as an advisory board member to ANZ Amerika Samoa Bank from 2000- 2002.

Matagi-Fa’atili, in her response, also acknowledged that it's the governor’s intention to privatize TBAS and pointed to the board only having 2 government people serving on the board, her and Watson — as proof of the governor’s intention.

Committee chairman Sen. Magalei Logovi’i informed members that another hearing would be called at a later time for the TBAS president to explain the process of the bank being privatized and where it stands now.

Sen. Sauitufuga P. Suiaunoa said it's important that there are more deposits into the bank. He asked the witnesses to recommend, as board members, a way to attract more customers to the bank and increase deposits.

Reid suggested hosting an “open house” for the public so the bank can provide its long term plans, and explain its goals as well as explain to the public where the bank stands. Matagi-Fa’atili agreed, and noted that the bank continues to reach out to the public — both government and private sector, as well as individuals — to encourage them to deposit with TBAS.