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NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Sept. 14) – Tonga's civil servants will vote tomorrow to elect their representatives to the Retirement Fund Board, which is responsible for the management of a 50 million paanga (US$25.4 million) retirement fund established in 1999.

They will choose two representatives and two alternative representatives to become members of the board for a three-year term.

Saia Havili from the RFB said that the tri-annual election is not as heavily contested as in previous years. There are only eight candidates this year comparing to up to 30 in previous years.

This year's election is seen as a tough contest between candidates who were very active in the recent strike of the Civil Servants, such as Fotu Fisi'iahi, and Vuna Fa'otusia, and other candidates including the incumbent members Manu 'Akau'ola and Folau Lokotui, the only woman candidate Robin Kaho, as well as Penisimani Fifita, Sione Moala Mafi and Pulupaki Moala.

The Retirement Fund Board is chaired by the Prime Minister, Prince 'Ulukalala Lavaka Ata, and the two employer's representatives are Hon. Siaosi 'Aho, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, and Hon. Siosiua 'Utoikamanu, the Minister of Finance.

‘Akanesi Taufa of the Public Service Commission said that the election will take place in each government department from 9 am to 4 pm, and besides the two civil servants' representatives they will also have to elect two alternative members. The incumbent alternative members are Siaosi Sovaleni and Pulupaki Moala.

Saia Havili believed that to be a member of the RFB was attractive to civil servants only as a challenge to be involved in the management of such a huge fund. He said that even though members were paid meeting fees but it was nothing extra ordinary.

September 15, 2005

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