AMERICAN SAMOA GOVERNOR TAUESE: NO WORK HOUR REDUCTION NECESSARY

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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (January 4, 2000 – Samoa News)---House Speaker Aina Saoluaga T. Nua has asked Governor Tauese Sunia to deliver the annual State of the Territory Address during a Joint Session of the Fono scheduled for Monday morning, January 10th.

The Third Session of the 26th Legislature will convene at 10:00 a.m. that day.

"I trust this an effective engagement on working together to focus on a potential strategy to steer ASG (the American Samoa Government) towards prosperity and a strong government in the New Era," the Speaker wrote in his brief invitation.

When the second session of the legislature opened in July, Tauese did not appear. The governor does not usually attend mid-year Fono openings, but he does generally appear at January Fono openings.

In July, lawmakers were concerned that they were not being briefed on the government's status at a time when the media was reporting that ASG finances were in very bad shape.

In late May, Tauese had called for strict spending to prevent the government from going broke after it faced an unanticipated shortfall of roughly $5 million in local revenue collections. At the same time, Tauese announced the separation of checking accounts of federal grants from local revenues.

A month ago, the governor told the Samoa News that the government was still in trouble and might have to reduce working hours for government employees in January.

NO NEED TO REDUCE HOURS

Yesterday, Tauese said ASG finances are "touch and go," but "at this point, short work hours are not necessary."

The governor wants to move fast on securing the $18.6 million tobacco settlement loan. He says he will start working on a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Interior, and when an MOU has been negotiated, he will go to the Fono to obtain their endorsement.

If the loan were obtained, ASG would be able to pay off old bills and free up scarce revenues to meet current needs.

Tauese said he had no special legislative agenda for the Fono, but other members of his office said the Administration plans to submit legislation for the Fono, including the nomination of someone to be the new Administrative Law Judge (previous nominee Aitofele Sunia was twice rejected by the Senate) and a member of the Immigration Board (the Senate has rejected the governor's nominee three times in the past year).

Items 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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