Governor Lolo Signs 2014 Am. Samoa Government Budget

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Fono budget reduced, almost $1 million from other projects cut

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Oct. 1, 2013) – After reducing the Fono’s budget down to just over $7 million, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga signed into law the American Samoa Government’s (ASG) $455 million budget for the new fiscal year 2014, which begins today.

Prior to approving the FY 2014 budget, the Fono cut $985,000 from seven projects listed under the Special Programs and the Governor’s Office, and the Fono re-allocated that money to the Legislature for "materials & supplies" — increasing this budget item from $1.22 million to $2.21 million — giving the Fono a total budget of $7.68 million.

In his letter to the Fono yesterday approving the FY 2014 budget, the governor said he has line-item vetoed the amount of $985,000.

However, rather than line item veto the entire amount, the governor said he reduced the appropriated amount for materials & supplies by $625,000 to $1.58 million and this $625,000 is to remain unappropriated, pending further action by the Fono.

"The result of this [line-item] action is to reduce the Legislature’s total budget to $7,060,000 which equals the amount of your original submission in June", the governor wrote to the Fono leaders.

Lolo said there are several reasons for the line item veto. For example, he said that in FY 2012 actual materials & supplies expenditures were $1.39 million while $1.33 million was budgeted for FY 2013.

He said the Fono’s original budget proposal for this budget item in FY 2014 was $1.44 million. By increasing the materials & supplies item by $985,000 without providing detailed justification on the proposed expenditures, the "Legislature is limiting its ability to effectively manage use of its funds," he said.

"Principles of good governance and effective financial management call for us to budget wisely and detail our proposed expenditures so we can then manage against budget," Lolo wrote to the Fono.

"We also need to be mindful of the importance of restraining our overall expenditures in order to keep faith with the people of American Samoa, who are already shouldering a burden with the cost of living being such a significant portion of disposable income," he said.

Lolo said he is sure lawmakers in both chambers appreciate that in times of financial uncertainty, restraining growth in government and keeping within budget targets, "is a laudable goal."

The administration submitted and the Fono approved the FY 2014 budget of $456,304,500 ($456.30 million) but with the line-item of $625,000, the final budget for the new fiscal year stands at $455,679,500 (or $455.67 million).

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