AMERICAN SAMOA ENDS FISCAL YEAR IN BLACK

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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa, (Samoa News, Dec. 30) - Governor Togiola Tulafono says the American Samoa Government (ASG) had a very successful fiscal year 2003 with about $1.6 million in excess revenues at the close of the fiscal year.

The Governor's statement responding to Samoa News inquiries, confirmed what other cabinet members had said recently of ASG's "another positive financial record at the close of FY 2003."

"ASG closed a very successful year in FY2003," the Governor reported. "ASG closed another year in the black, except this time, we did not utilize any loan or settlement funds to meet the budget."

"ASG has excess revenue of approximately $1.6 million in FY2003," the Governor points out. "We will be discussing that with the Fono next year when the session opens."

A senior government official told Samoa News earlier last week, that preliminary unaudited financial reports show that the "government is again in the black because of cost savings and other measures in the reduction of spending implemented not only by the late Governor Tauese P.F. Sunia but by his predecessor Togiola."

Tauese told the Fono in his last appearance before lawmakers in March this year before his sudden passing, that ASG closed out FY 2002 in the black, because of financial restraints on spending but urged the Fono to do the same.

The Third Regular Session of the 28th Legislature convenes on the second Monday of January 2004 and Governor Togiola will deliver his first state of the territorial address at that time.

Among the issues Togiola is expected to address is the current financial status of ASG, the update on fiscal reforms and on measures the Administration plans to submit to the Fono for approval.

ASG's "Revised Final Fiscal Reform Plan" submitted to the U.S. Department of Interior and other Congressional committees dated Sept. 1, 2003 states in part that the ASG "cash crisis has disappeared along with the deficit that created it."

Meanwhile, Togiola said the government also continues to "maintain the investment account for the insurance interest settlement for $16 million".

"We are drawing down $5 million to effect the recovery plan for the LBJ, and the rest will remain in investments until we propose a spending plan approved by the Fono," the Governor added.

There have been some recommendations from the Fono on how the money should be spent but nothing has been officially introduced.

The post judgment insurance settlement money is being maintained off island in an investment account by Solomon Smith Barney where it is currently earning a one and half percent interest rate.

The $5 million is to help pay off the hospital's outstanding debts and was approved in October during a special session of the Fono called by the Governor.

However, loan documents have yet to be signed as ASG is reportedly still not yet satisfied with fiscal and managerial reforms proposals the hospital submitted.

The hospital is also facing three separate malpractice lawsuits totaling $6.7 million with a possible fourth lawsuit to be filed in the High Court soon.

January 1, 2004

Samoa News: www.samoanews.com

 

 

 

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