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Lolo proposes salary hikes for 12 directors —but not noted in budget

Sen. Tuaolo Manaia Fruean

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has proposed salary increases for 12 cabinet members, who oversee large executive branch departments — up to $75,000 — for the new fiscal year 2020, which starts Oct. 1, 2019.

This is according to Human Resources director, Eseneiaso Liu, when questioned by Sen. Tuaolo Manaia Fruean at last Friday’s Fono Joint Budget Committee FY 2020 budget hearing for DHR, whose proposed FY 2020 budget totals $2.31 million — with $1.44 million funded by local revenues and $864,000 through grants.

At the start of the hearing, Tuaolo raised the issue of director salaries. Speaking for himself, Tuaolo said it’s not appropriate for the Governor’s Chief of Staff to have a higher salary — which is proposed at $75,000 in FY 2020 — while the ASG Treasurer and the Attorney General each get $73,000, which is what’s cited in the budget document.

Tuaolo asked if there are any proposed salary increases for executive branch directors pending with DHR, to which Liu said yes, adding that the governor has already submitted a proposal of $75,000 which will probably take effect upon approval of the FY 2020 budget.

The Pago Pago Senator asked Liu to identify the executive branch directors who are subject to proposed pay hikes. 

Liu identified the directors by departments or their specific titles.

Samoa News is listing them based on what’s actually proposed in the FY 2020 budget document — instead of $75,000

•     Secretary of Samoan Affairs - $73,000;

•     Attorney General - $73,000;

•     Police Commissioner - $73,000;

•     Treasurer - $73,000

•     Chief Procurement Officer - $65,00

•     Education - $73,000

•     Public Works - $73,000

•     Port Administration - $73,000

•     Commerce - $73,000

•     Budget Office - $70,000

•     Human and Social Services - $73,000

•     Human Resources - $70,000

Liu informed the committee that the proposed salary hikes are for directors who head large executive branch departments. “What’s you current salary?” Tuaolo asked, Liu said $70,000.

Tuaolo said the Fono now has a clear understanding of those who are getting salary increases and it’s much different — referring to the salary amount — than what’s cited in the budget document.

He questioned why salary increases for these directors are hidden, instead of spelling it out in the budget so there’s a clear picture of the final 2020 budget.

Liu said that to her understanding, each of these directors should have included the increase in their budget submissions. She reiterated that the cabinet members identified are the ones who’ll get salary increases in FY 2020, once it’s approved

Tuaolo said he is supportive of directors getting a good salary, but such details should be provided in the proper way — list them in the budget submission. He said the joint committee will take up this issue during their discussions.

As previously reported by Samoa News, executive branch cabinet members are gubernatorial appointees and serve at the pleasure of the sitting governor.