Tuilaepa was the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance under Tofilau Eti Alesana following the Human Rights Protection Party's return to power after the coalition government of Vaai and Tupua. For a while he was both Prime Minister and Minister of Finance after Tofialu stepped down from the Premiership. However, following a Cabinet reshuffle after the following elections in which he led the HRPP for an additional term, Tuilaepa relinquished the post of Minister of Finance to Misa Telefoni Retzlaff who also became the new Deputy Prime Minister.
The official reason given for Tuilaepa's relinquishment of the Ministry of Finance was that it was due to the amount of responsibility and work involved being both Prime Minister and Minster of Finance and to do the job properly required a full time Minister. However, it is widely recognised within government circles that it was probably also due to appease the ambitious Misa.
Tuilaepa was largely responsible for initiating major financial reforms in the early 1990s. As Prime Minister he has continued to push for and to aid such reforms where possible. As both Minister of Finance and Prime Minister he has shown a consistent attempt towards restrained and responsible fiscal management.
Having taken up the sport only 5 months prior to the Games, Tuilaepa was ranked second in Samoa in the combined bow discipline. The Prime Minister's son was also a reserve team member.