Chairman Defends, Senators Unhappy with Payout

Despite senators’ concerns regarding the recent payout for former Retirement Executive Director Luatua Filisouaiga Ta’afua, the head of the Retirement Fund board insisted at a hearing last week that the payout was legal.

Board Chairman Va’anatiu Toafala Iafeta said Luatua was entitled to a payrout of $115,000 but after negotiations, the final paycheck issued to the former executive director was $67,000.

Senator Laolagi Vaeao said if Luatua was a career service employee, policies regarding accumulating overtime and comp time should apply to Luatua.

Annual leave that’s allowed to be carried forward for career service employees is limited to 480 hours.

Under questions from Senator Tuaolo, Vaanatiu revealed that Luatua’s accumulated leave hours were more than 2,000.

Vaanatiu explained that the Retirement Office did not have such a policy about carrying over only 480 hours and insists the payout was within the law.

He said the current board has since adopted ASG HR policies which would be used moving forward.

According to the chairman, a former executive director for the Retirement Fund, a Caucasian man, received a payout which was more than what Luatua, who has worked for Retirement for nearly 20 years, was paid.

Vaanatiu added there would have been liability issues had the Retirement Office not paid Luatua what was owed him.

Luatua’s salary was $85,000, according to Vaanatiu.

Tuaolo said the previous Retirement Board is to be blamed for hiring Luatua at a very high salary.

Senator Magalei Logovi’I, a member of the Retirement Board under the previous administration, said Luatua didn’t earn $85,000 when he was initially hired 20 years ago, rather he worked his way up and was paid that salary as the executive director.

Magalei also said that Luatua’s check stub showed how many comp time hours and other benefits he was earning and this is what Luatua is entitled to.

Senator Galea’i Tuufuli said the Retirement Office should comply with ASG career service policies as it is an entity of the government.

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