AMERICAN SAMOA SCHOOL MILK AND JUICE CONTRACT WITH HAWAII CANCELED

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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (September 8, 1997, Samoa News)---Pacific Express's million dollar-plus milk and juice contract to supply the Department of Education's School Lunch Program was terminated last Friday by Chief Procurement Officer and Governor Tauese Sunia.

An official letter of termination was signed by Tauese and delivered to Pacific Express owner Aiva Filiaga, a Hawaii businessman.

Chief of Staff Dr. Sili Sataua told the Samoa News that Tauese made the decision based on recommendations from School Lunch Program officials.

"The DOE recommendation stated that Pacific Express has demonstrated that it cannot fulfill the contract obligations and the CPO concurred with the recommendation," stated Dr. Sataua.

He said that the Governor is aware that since school started last week Tuesday, there have been disruptions in the daily milk and juice supply.

For the next three days, GHC Reid will be supplying some of the required milk, while Haleck's West Dairy will supply additional milk and juice to ensure that students receive their daily supplies.

Dr. Sataua said that GHC Reid, which posted the second lowest bid, does not have sufficient milk on island to meet the DOE's total need, so Haleck's West Dairy is providing supplementary milk supplies.

"We haven't made any firm decision yet, but it's highly likely that the contract will be put out for bid," explained the Chief of Staff.

The termination orders came only four days after the first day of school. Despite the advance misgivings of Procurement Office staff about Pacific Express's ability to perform, Tauese said that he would wait until the first day of school to determine whether Pacific Express was fulfilling the terms of its contract.

Pacific Express recently air-freighted containers of milk and juice into the territory to help meet the contract obligations.

Responding to the termination, Pacific Express owner and Hawaii businessman, Aiva Filiaga, registered his "deep disappointment" in writing yesterday with Governor Tauese.

The two-page letter, which details his side of the story and casts an unfavorable light on the Tauese administration, closes by saying "I will be taking appropriate legal action to recover my losses and damages."

According to Filiaga, his company had no legal obligations to provide milk and juice last week, because the contract originally indicated that the deliveries would commence on September 8.

Deputy Chief Procurement Officer Pat Tervola, however, told the Samoa News that Pacific Express was notified in writing on August 20 concerning start date changes.

Filiaga pointed out that he air-freighted milk and juice supplies to accommodate the early start of school year. He said sea-borne supplies are scheduled to arrive this Wednesday to meet the contract requirements.

He told Samoa News last week, before the contract was terminated, that he has gone out of his way to meet the date changes. Despite the date change, he noted, Pacific Express was supplying milk and juice as requested.

"We have no legal obligation to start supplying until September 8," Filiaga told Samoa News. "But we fulfilled their request because we wanted to demonstrate to the government on good faith that we can supply milk and juice."

Stories from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to >samoanews@samoatelco.com

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