OHA Trustee Akina Urges Policy Changes on Spending, Transparency
Trustee Keli‘i Akina’s comments before vote for OHA BOT Chair
News Release from Office of OHA Trustee Kelii Akina, December 8, 2016
“I am taking my first fiscal duty very seriously which is to cast my vote for chair but I have not had certain advantages that my colleagues here have had. You’ve had the opportunity to look in the hearts of fellow trustees. You know how they have worked. You’ve looked at their character. You know the person. I do not have this privilege. Instead, in order to exercise my vote I had to do due diligence, and do the following to prepare myself for this day. I had to read through the minutes, comb through the comments and the positions taken by the trustees, I had to look through the financial documents, read through the fiscal sustainability reports. I had to do my research in order to set up a set of criteria. In other words, on what basis would I cast my vote? Again, I did not have personal considerations, and so I am going to make the assumption which I believe is correct, that all of you have aloha for the Hawaiian people, that all of you care about building a strong OHA.
The criteria I have come up with have to be very specific. Our number one need at OHA is to build a strong fiscal sustainability, in other words take the trust and protect that trust, grow that trust and ensure that trust is used to meet the needs of the Hawaiian people. And so I had to ask whose policies, whose statements in the minutes, whose record best demonstrated a commitment to fiscal sustainability? At the outset, I am grateful for the work that was done in the last term by the administration –thank you ka pouhana, and your team- on producing a fiscal sustainability program that was featured in Ka Wai Ola most recently.
In comparing that with the actual financial statements, our team which we put together of economists and advisers, distributes “Crucial Recommendations for Achieving Fiscal Sustainability.” It’s a document that I sent over the last two weeks to each of you as trustees. And I’ll submit it to the chair now, if you don’t mind just for the record here so that it can be available to everyone. What this shows, after a careful analysis of the financial statements of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, is that the Fiscal Sustainability Plan is a good start. But it is only a good start. The Board has authorized that direction. In order to be successful, there needs to be certain discipline in the exercise of policy that affects five areas. And if we don’t have those policies in place, we will not be effective.
That is my criteria. Who on this Board has demonstrated a commitment to ensuring the following are honored? Let me tell you what they are.
Number one: we must reduce spending. As Trustees we must be willing to reverse the trend of the past several years in which we have been spending more than we have been earning.
Number two: we must stop depleting the fiscal reserve. In other words, we must protect the intergenerational equity of the trust rather than spend down at the rate we have been spending.
Third, in our spending, we must stick to our mission. There are many things we spend on but what we have to do is ensure that the spending is focused on the betterment of Hawaiians- housing, jobs, education, health care. Not political programs.
Fourth, we must increase revenues aggressively. We must find creative and responsible ways to increase the revenues of OHA for the sake of beneficiaries. Projects like Kaka‘ako Development need to be fast tracked.
And fifth- this is extremely important- we must establish and strengthen our checks and balances, both at the Board and throughout the administration. We need to embrace opportunities for greater transparency and accountability as well as ensure our organization stays committed to our financial sustainability plans.
In closing, I would like to say I have high hopes for the future of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.”
Power Point: Crucial Recommendations Presentation
PDF: Crucial Recommendations for Achieving Fiscal Sustainability
“This report includes a comprehensive assessment of OHA’s current financial condition. The report also includes recommendations for the development of the Fiscal Sustainability Implementation Plan that was authorized by the Board of Trustees through action item RM#16-08.“