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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (July 21, 1998 - Samoa News)---Territorial Senator Matautia Tuiafono is taking steps to alter the language of a legislature-approved $5 Customs Declaration Fee passed in April for use in helping pay off an American Samoa Government (ASG) $13 million, ten-year loan from the American Samoa Employee's Retirement Fund.

The move by the former Secretary of Samoan Affairs was in response to the "need to clarify the intent and application of this charge, so that passengers of vessels and airlines are not charged for filling out Customs Declaration Forms upon entry into American Samoa."

Under the proposed legislation, the changes would go into effect as soon as passed by lawmakers and approved by the Governor.

Lawmakers have interpreted the original version of the bill, based on testimony from government officials, as permitting the $5 customs fee to be charged for cargo only. However, after the law was passed, ASG advised local airlines and shipping agencies they would have to collect the fee from arriving passengers too.

Over objections from lawmakers, a letter dated June 2, 1998 to local airlines and shipping agencies from Treasurer Tifimalae Ale stated the government would start billing vendors the $5 customs fee, effective June 3, 1998, on a monthly basis.

Whether ASG had actually started billing local airlines and shipping agencies, based on the number of completed customs forms, could not be confirmed yesterday, and Samoa News was unable to obtain comments on the issue from ASG officials.

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

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