The Samoa Airport Authority board members are underpaid: “$18,500 for members is peanuts” while “$22,500 for the chairman is also peanuts”, claims the Samoa Airport Authority (S.A.A.), General Manager, Magele Hoe
“That’s the salary of newly University graduates when they obtain employment,” he said.
The annual financial statement obtained by the Samoa Observer shows a huge increase in the Board of Director’s fees.
For the 2016 Fiscal Year, fees rose from $48,851 in 2015 to a whopping $138,483 in 2016, a difference of $89,632.
Meanwhile for the last Fiscal Year, the S.A.A. showed a loss of $4.26million tala.
Magele however still claimed the board members are underpaid.
“If it was up to me... if you go to N.Z. [they pay] $82,000 annually yet our own local board members just recently had an increase to $18,500 from $4,500 annually.
“If the Board is ultimately responsible for the organization, how can you pay them less than workers?”
He said that over time, this issue was reviewed by the Tribunal and they had a $14,000 increase a couple of years ago.
“This is still not enough.
“It’s true they are not employees, but the ultimate responsibility if anything happens falls on their shoulders.
“In the Act, the buck stops with the Board.
“If anything happens with the management, the Board is blamed.... the Board gets kicked out by the Cabinet if they don't perform.
“That’s why to me, the Board is underpaid,” said Magele.
Asked for his take on how much the Board should be paid he replied, “In fact the Chairs should be paid at the C.E.O. level, and the Board members should be paid at the A.C.E.O. level, given their heavy responsibilities.”
He said the Board meets once a month and they are responsible for so many projects and if anything happens they are blamed.
“So $18,500 is peanuts, that’s the salary of a new graduate at N.U.S. (National University of Samoa) and $22,500 for a Chair as I said is peanuts.
“That’s the salary for a B.A. (Bachelor degree) holder yet it’s the Chair who goes to the Cabinet and the Ministers.”
He said the increase of the salaries for the Board members was long
Magele also made it clear that Board members are from the private sector.
Magele told Samoa Observer, that the private sector is behind the economy growth in Samoa, that’s why the members of the thriving business community are appointed to manage the Boards.
He points to the global trend where “public bodies are always for public service and they are not in it for a commercial gain.... unlike the private businesses they are in it for commercial gain.”
He reiterated that “Board members goals in governing the Government’s boards, are to make a profit.”
The Chair of the S.A.A. Board is Va’atu’itu’i Apete Meredith and Board members are Samau Ieru Lokeni, Solialofi Vaipou Harry Porter, Tuala Pat Leota, Tuala Tommy Stancil and Samoa Roy Lee.
The report says that despite the increase in revenues “expenses had also increased by approximately 41.3% compared to the previous financial year.
“This was mainly due to an increase in depreciation expenses resulting from a change in accounting estimates, which had been brought about by the reduction in the useful life of the terminal buildings. The old terminal building is expected to be demolished by 30 November, 2016,” according to the report.
Magele explained the $4 million tala loss was from deprecation costs and it was the value of the assets of the Airport property, namely the terminal.
The report also noted the increase of revenue was to an increase in departure tax revenues by 9.6%.
This was from Samoa’s hosting of the Commonwealth Youth Games and the All Blacks verses Manu Samoa rugby game which had contributed strongly to this departure tax figure increase.
A total of$9.12Million was collected from departure taxes at Faleolo Airport compared to $8.26Million collected the year before, an increase of $850,000+.
For the landing fees the Airport collection’s was $2.96Million for FY16 and $2.7Million for FY15, an increase of $240,00+.
Parking fees for aircraft totaled at $67,284 while $653,920 was collected for vehicle parking fees among other incomes.