AMERICAN SAMOA GOVERNOR TAUESE SAYS "NOTHING IS WRONG"

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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa - April 17, 1998 - Samoa News)---"I am tired of being in the red! I am tired of debts! I am tired of being criticized by others and by the federal government which makes us look like we cannot operate a government," declared Governor Tauese Sunia during his keynote address at the 1998 Flag Day opening ceremony on Thursday before a crowd of more than 2,000 people.

The Governor spoke of the financial state of the Territory entirely in Samoan. He did not repeat his remarks about the current state of affairs of the government in English, preferring to limit the English portion of his address to thanking all visiting dignitaries and a providing a brief overview of the historical basis of American Samoa's relationship with the United States.

"How is the government of American Samoa doing this year as we celebrate the 98th anniversary of our partnership with the United States of America?" he asked. "I testify before you, the people of Tutuila and Manu'a, that this month I am happy to bring you the good news that our financial picture is getting better."

The Governor revealed that according to a revenue collection report that he recently received, the Tax Office has been able to collect 40 percent more business-related taxes and 20 percent more in individual taxes than previously.

He further revealed that the government is now negotiating with the private sector's large companies, including the canneries, to be able to collect $3-4 million per quarter starting in June.

"Every year we argue with our large companies," Tauese pointed out. "We tell them they owe us a lot in taxes but they reply that they are earning less revenues. Now, we are in agreement that they will pay us a large amount in advance. It's up to them how many billions they make, but we won't ask for that."

The Governor announced that one of the canneries had owed the government about $500,000 in taxes and that he received payment for the full amount on Wednesday.

"I have listened to the radio and read the newspaper stories," he continued. "Stories about what the Legislative branch is doing and what is happening inside the government.

"I need to tell you, Tutuila and Manu'a, there is nothing wrong," he insisted. "Our government has matured, which is a sign that we have reached a democratic government, where the other branch of government watches the other. Lawmakers check on the Executive Branch.

"There is nothing wrong," he repeated. "The government is simply being mature. At this time next year, I will stand before you and tell you that this is the first time in over 20 years that American Samoa is no longer in the red.

"Let's try to resolve these problems now so by the year 1999 we will talking and laughing about them," he added. "I believe God loves Samoa and I thank you all for your prayers."

The Governor was the only person to give a speech at yesterday's Flag Day ceremonies.

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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