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House and Senate agree upon changes to Retirement board bill

fili@samoanews.com

Both the Senate and House have approved in final reading their respective versions of an administration bill seeking to increase the number of board members of the ASG Employees Retirement Fund, but only after amendments were made by both sides.
 
The original version of the administration bill called to increase the number of trustee members from five to nine. Under current law, three trustees must be members of the Fund, while two are non members.
 
The administration’s proposal states that of the nine trustees, two of them are members of the Fund while the other seven are non members. This provision prompted concern from Aleki Sene Sr., who has been chairman of the Retirement Fund for many years.
 
Sene  testified last week during a House hearing, saying that the administration’s proposal — which would give non Fund members more control than members — conflicts with current law, which seeks to ensure that members have authority over decisions dealing with the fund.
 
The full House approved yesterday the bill with amendments, which now calls for seven trustees, with four of them being members of the Fund.
 
The Senate also amended its version of the bill to reflect the same ratio, seven trustees, and four of them members of the Fund.
 
The other change made by the Senate concerns three of the non Fund members, saying they “shall include among them at least three members with experience in the private sector community.”
 
After the bill, including the amendments, went through third reading on Wednesday in the Senate [and before the final vote was carried out] Sen. Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono moved to delay the final vote while an actuary report on the impact these amendments will have on the Fund is sought from the Retirement Fund Office.
 
Soliai, who on Tuesday strongly supported the Senate amendments, argued that the law requires an actuary report from the Retirement Fund anytime there are changes made to the Retirement Fund.
 
The senator said he is concerned with the bill, including changes, becoming law and Senate records would show that there was no actuarial report provided prior to the final vote.
 
However, Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie pointed out that the bill has already been read in its entirety. He said Senate rules calls for any additional changes to be made prior to reading the bill at third reading. In other words, the motion to delay third reading should have been made prior to the bill being read in its entirety, he said.
 
Gaoteote also said the actuary report can be provided later, adding that senators were well briefed during the February meeting of the Retirement Fund in Honolulu as to where the Funds stands.
 
When the voice vote was called, Soliai said he gave in with a yes vote and this was also the same response from outgoing Retirement Fund board trustee, Sen. Magalei Logovi’i.
 
Both chambers now go through the usual protocol of approving each other’s bill.
 



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