Four DBAS nominees confirmed, fifth a no-show
The Senate last Friday approved four out of the five newly appointed members of the Development Bank of American Samoa (DBAS). Board member nominee Fiapa’ipa’i Fruean was the only one who didn’t attend a confirmation hearing earlier in the day and no explanation was made public as to the reason she was not there.
The confirmed board members and their individual vote: Senate President ProTemp Nua Saoluaga (15-1), House Vice Speaker Talia Faafetai Iaulualo (16-0), Leapei Fa’aola (15-1) and Malepeai Setu (15 yes and one abstained from voting). Because the votes are by secret ballot, which is required by regulations when it comes to a confirmation vote, it was not clear who abstained.
Fruean will now have to wait until the Fono returns in July for her confirmation before the Senate. The DBAS board does not require House confirmation, according to local law.
At the start of the confirmation hearing, Senate Government Operations Committee vice chairman Sen. Tuiasina S. Esera pointed out that only four nominees were present and this is another case where not all appointees are in attendance.
Following a motion from Tuiasina the committee unanimously approved for the hearing to proceed with only four appointees.
Sen. Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono quickly moved to dismiss the witnesses saying that the appointees are well known to each senator and that the nominees are all connected to the Fono — Nua and Talia are current lawmakers; Malepeai is a former senator; and Fa’aola is a long time Fono employee.
However, the 20-minute hearing proceed with senators providing statements of recommendations and suggestions for the nominees to think about when they are confirmed by the Senate.
The nominees were also called upon to fully review the policies pertaining to loans, to ensure that everyone is treated equally. They were also asked to look for additional money that could be made available to loan to the public for their homes.
Sen. Mauga T. Asuega said there are other issues in DBAS that needed to be addressed, including the federally funded Section 1602 housing program for the low income. He said any problems with the DBAS are the responsibility of the board to fix.
Sen. Faletagoa’i I. Tuiolemotu told the board that, “I’m fed up” with DBAS, having to wait in line trying to get a loan but still couldn’t get a loan. He said he is not sure how DBAS interprets “low income” people, but he sees at the bank people with high income getting loans.
Sen. Laolagi F.S. Vaeao told the nominees to always remember that this is a very important entity of government and that a fair policy should be in place for everyone.