AMERICAN SAMOA’S FALEOMAVAEGA CONCERNED ABOUT TAXES AND POKER MACHINES

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AMERICAN SAMOA’S FALEOMAVAEGA CONCERNED ABOUT TAXES AND POKER MACHINES

By Ken Ainuu

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (February 8, 2000 – Samoa News)---Congressman Eni Faleomavaega is concerned about the drop in local tax collections and wants to see American Samoa’s excise tax replaced with a sales tax.

"When Governor Lutali and I and our administration were in office, in the mid-80's, we were bringing in almost $50 million dollars a year. Now we'd be lucky if we bring in $28 or 30 million I believe. I realize there are a lot of factors involved here of why it's so low. But to be consistently low, then I start raising questions in terms of what they are doing.

"I don't think it is the average person that makes $6,000 a year to feed seven kids that is not paying his/her taxes. I think that this person pays his taxes. Many local businesses are literally getting away with it, concerning paying their taxes. I am not anti-business. I'm absolutely for business. Make good money, good profit, but to the point where you monopolize and manipulate, that I'm against.

"I SUPPORT THE SALES TAX"

"I support the sales tax. But what I think should be proposed, is the elimination of excise tax. I can guarantee that retailers that pay their excise tax will be absolutely sure that this 5% will come right back to their pockets when they charge excessively for the consumers. Who suffers? It's the consumers, (with businesses) making a 200% profit or even more.

"Make our port duty-free the way it was before. This builds the economy."

GAMBLING

"I do not accept Gaming in American Samoa for several reasons. We don't have the money and resources to control and to monitor gambling in our territory.

"For example, I can bring in my own poker machine, tamper it, and make certain that this poker machine will give me 100% of the money that consumers put in there. That's exactly what's happening now.

"You know very well that eventually the money (people play with) will go right back into the machines because of one's greed to win more, and it's also the way that these machines are programmed.

"There is no way that you can win from these poker machines because there is no monitoring system, no computer technicians trained enough to know if these machines are running properly.

"The people playing these machines are just being taken, (and) that's a real crime. I am very disappointed at our Government, because they have not taken any sufficient action.

"A while back, I suggested that we should pass a new law. One, let us ban poker machines immediately. Because of the simple reason that we don't know how to monitor them.

"My point is, the owners of these machines are literally stealing our people's money. Compare it to the State of Nevada, where they have people that are professionally trained to monitor it (and ensure a legal profit, but no more).

"Secondly, I cannot conceive the thought of our people gambling, or justify the effect of it to our people. I'm glad the Governor has now changed his mind concerning the subject. If there is concern about the financial needs of our government, I say we still have not explored other options to find sources of revenues that will be helpful for the future of our territory."

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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