AMERICAN SAMOA GOVERNOR TAUESE SAYS LAWMAKERS CAN'T REPEAL $US 5 CUSTOMS FEE

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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (May 26, 1998 - Samoa News)---The Tauese administration is reviewing the $5 Customs Declaration Fee which the Administration plans to impose on imported cargo and incoming travelers effective June 1, this year.

The Fono leaders last week wrote to the Governor urging the Chief Executive to collect the fee only on cargo and not passengers, since it would create a hardship for travelers.

Yesterday, Governor Tauese Sunia said he is looking into the language of the law to determine if the law passed by the Legislature exempts passengers or not.

Moreover, he said indications from Legislative leaders that they may repeal the Customs Declaration fee law if the Executive Branch does not exempt passengers does not sit well with his administration and his philosophy on governing.

"Repealing the law is not the solution," he said. "Laws are like dancing, it takes two to dance and the threat to repeal is empty until I decide to dance along."

If the law is repealed, ASG would lose about $300,000 in revenue which the government will need to meet its $700,000 a year repayment for the $10 million loan from the American Samoa Government (ASG) Employees Retirement Fund.

If the Administration compromises and charges the fee on only cargo, government officials estimate ASG would collect $100,000 less a year, or about $200,000.

Legislative leaders insist the language of the law was targeted for imported cargo only. However, ASG officials, after the fee was signed into law, insisted the language of the law does not explicitly cite cargo.

The Customs Division plans to proceed with the collection of the $5 fee effective June 1, this year.

Reportedly, ASG has also received heavy opposition from local airline and shipping agents which have been directed by the Executive Branch to collect the fees for ASG.

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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