AMERICAN SAMOA TOBACCO CLAIM GIVEN UP FOR LOAN

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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (March 31, 2000 – Honolulu Advertiser)---American Samoa lawmakers have exchanged the local share of the national tobacco settlement for a federal loan to pay mounting government debts.

The Fono, or territorial legislature, approved an $18.6 million loan from the U.S. government and relinquished claims to the territory’s $26 million reimbursement by U.S. tobacco companies for medical expenses related to smoking.

Congress approved the loan last year with the provisions that $14.3 million be used to pay off outstanding debts dated back seven years and the remaining $4.3 million go toward financial reforms. Congress also specified the priorities in paying those debts.

Lawmakers also decided to sell bonds to pay off long-term debts while saving $400,000 a year in interest.

For additional reports from The Honolulu Advertiser, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Honolulu Advertiser.

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