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CONGRESSMAN ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA From American Samoa U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C.

NEWS RELEASE June 16, 2000


Congressman Faleomavaega announced that earlier today the U.S. House of Representatives passed the appropriations bill, which will fund the Department of the Interior for fiscal year 2001, beginning this October 1st.

American Samoa’s operations funding of $23.1 million and CIP funding of $10.1 million was included.

"There are many controversial provisions in this year’s legislation having to do with the environment and the use of public lands, but at least for this year, no one objected to ASG’s funding in the House," said Faleomavaega.

For the past several years, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have been including language in their committee reports alerting ASG (American Samoa Government) to possible future action if ASG does not get its finances in order.

This year, the House Appropriations Committee made its strongest statement yet in that regard, indicating that next year it may reduce ASG’s operations funding for the first time.

The report stated in part:

"The Committee is still very concerned about continuing fiscal problems in American Samoa. The Committee encourages the American Samoa government to take decisive action to control its costs and payroll, and enhance its revenues in accordance with the previous recommendations and any new financial recovery plan that may be developed as a result of the tobacco loan program provided last year. The Committee expects the Governor of American Samoa and the Secretary of the Interior to complete an MOU, which clearly stipulates fiscal, and operations reforms and cost reductions with clear benchmarks. If this is not completed and implemented by the time the Committee considers the fiscal year 2002 Interior appropriations bill, the Committee will seriously consider reducing the next American Samoa government operations appropriation."

Congressman Faleomavaega has written to Governor Tauese to bring this new report to his attention.

In his letter the Congressman stated: "In my opinion, any reduction in ASG’s operations funding would be detrimental to the local government and to the people of American Samoa. Furthermore, I believe this is the wrong approach to take, and will do all I can to prevent it."

Faleomavaega also noted that should one of the appropriations committees attempt to reduce ASG’s operations funding, whether or not they succeed will depend on the steps ASG takes between now and next spring to improve ASG’s finances.

After reviewing the committee report, Faleomavaega said, "I remain grateful to the Appropriations committees for assisting ASG last year by providing the $18 million loan, but I am very disappointed with this year’s House report. Governor Tauese has made progress over the last three years instituting new procedures which should lead to the control of costs, and is actively engaged negotiating the provisions of the MOU necessary to obtain the tobacco loan money. While both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have been sending "shots across the bow" for several years, reducing operations funding will only exacerbate an already difficult problem. There are other ways to address this problem, and I will do everything I can over the next year in working with ASG and my Republican colleagues to try to prevent a reduction in operations funding."

The overall bill is $302 million less than current year funding and $1.7 billion below President Clinton’s request.

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