AMERICAN SAMOA GOVERNMENT MULLS $286 MILLION FISCAL BUDGET

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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa, (Samoa News, Aug. 29) - No date has been set as to when the Fono [American Samoa legislature] will start reviewing the [US$286 million] fiscal year 2007 budget, which was officially introduced in both chambers yesterday and assigned to the respective budget committees for review.

Of the total US$286.5 million, US$129.03 million covers personnel; US$60.04 million goes for materials and supplies; US$44.52 million is allocated to contractual services; US$5 million for travel; US$39.1 million for "all others"; and US$8.7 million for equipment.

The Legislative Financial Office is close to finalizing the analysis of the FY 2007 budget with a written narrative still pending. Fono sources said the analysis makes comparisons between FY 2007, 2006 and 2005 and it reveals that personnel remains the biggest expenditure for American Samoa Government during these three fiscal years with limited funds for other services.

However, one Fono official points out that personnel will always increase every year due to increments.

According to the budget document, US$64.25 million in local revenue will fund the budget with US$49.72 million coming from taxes. The government predicts it will collect US$10.2 million in corporate taxes (compared to US$12.5 in FY 2006); US$17 million in individual income taxes (compared to US$14.5 million in FY 2006); US$18.8 million in Excise Taxes-general (compared to US$19.5 million in FY 2006) US$1.9 million under the soda tax (compared to US$2.1 million FY 2006) and US$1.7 million in the military cover-over tax (compared to US$3.7 million in FY 2006).

In his cover letter for the budget, Governor Togiola said the proposed budget is based on "current revenue collecting capability" and the government's desire "to improve on current service levels of governmental programs to provide for the varied needs of local citizens."

The rest of the funding for Fiscal Year 2007 comes from Interior Department for basic operation (US$22.7 million) and Capital Improvement Projects (US$10.5 million), Special Federal Grants (US$88.7 million) and Enterprise Funds (US$100.2 million).

The Fono, whose budget is US$5.69 million, same as the current fiscal year, needs to approve the Fiscal Year 2007 by midnight September 30, 2006.

August 30, 2006

Samoa News: www.samoanews.com

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