Calls To Cut Am. Samoa Government Workforce ‘Selfish’: Governor

admin's picture

Lolo defends hiring practices: Local residents need to pay their bills

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, April 30, 2015) – "Selfish thinking" is how Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga describes lawmakers and others who think the American Samoa Government’s workforce is too big, resulting in a large expenditure for personnel costs when ASG could be cutting costs to save money for other pressing matters in government.

Several lawmakers — in both the Senate and House — have voiced concerns over the high ASG payroll after Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga revealed in a Samoa News interview last month that the government’s cash flow has dropped by more than 50% due to many factors and this could lead to a reduction of hours for employees as a last option.

A Senate hearing early this month revealed that the government has hired additional people, including in the Governor’s Office since the start of fiscal year 2015 on Oct. 1, 2014. A Department of Human Resources payroll summary report, ending Feb. 28 shows ASG’s total workforce at 4,665 with total payroll costs of nearly $4 million every two weeks.

Among the senators concerned with the huge ASG payroll is Sen. Galea’i Tu’ufuli, chairman of the Senate Government Operations Committee, who told reporters last Thursday that there are too many new hires in government and spending is too high versus the approved budget.

Galea’i also says that when Lolo was the Senate president, the Legislature’s budget went from $2.8 million to $6 million during his tenure.

When asked for comment, Lolo told Samoa News, in an interview last Friday, that his administration has expanded the ASG payroll in order to provide more jobs for local residents so they can pay their bills and have a proper lifestyle.

"It’s important that more people are employed in order to have money for their family and pay expenses," Lolo said in a phone interview. "Any lawmaker who doesn’t think that providing more jobs for the community is important, it’s ‘selfish thinking’ on their part, and they don’t care about the residents, who need jobs."

Lolo says he has stressed in his cabinet meeting this point of making more jobs available in government. "And as I’ve told my cabinet, take constructive criticism from the Fono and make use of the ones that will make improvements to the government. And the criticisms that are not useful — then don’t use them."

In speaking to reporters last week during a news conference he called covering several issues, Galea’i also said that he wants someone who is honest, who has the guts to stand up for the people and practice transparency as a candidate for governor in the next general election. He urged the Lolo Administration to become more transparent and accountable to the people. (See Samoa News edition of Apr. 24.)

Lolo told Samoa News that he respects the criticism and advice from Galea’i and from the Fono, but he said, Galea’i is not specific on the issues of transparency and accountability.

"It would be very constructive if the criticism also provided specific issues so that I can look into and review them with a proper response," Lolo said. "My administration made a commitment to the people of American Samoa to serve our people and we try to live up to that commitment."

According to the governor, "Decisions have to be made on a wide range of issues as they arise or when it comes to my attention." For example, the Flag Day fautasi race decision he made upholding last week Monday’s results.

"As I said, the fautasi committee came to me to make the decision and I had to make it. Everyone was waiting for the decision," he said.

Regarding the governor’s race in the November 2016 general election and if he would seek re-election, Lolo said, "This is not the time for that discussion because as governor, there are a lot of issues that need to be dealt with at this point in time."

Lolo is currently serving his first four-year term as governor and he is allowed under the constitution to seek another consecutive four year term — if he decides to — in the 2016 general election.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment