Am. Samoa Governor Uncertain About Special Session Of Legislature

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Lolo also won’t confirm whether he will seek another term

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Nov. 19, 2015) – Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga says that calling a Special Session of the Legislature before the end of the year will "depend on some of the programs" that the government is working on at this point.

Lolo hinted about calling a special session in his cover letter approving the fiscal year 2016 budget, which began on Oct. 1, 2015. Lolo informed Fono leaders that he will submit proposed legislation for the special session that will reinstate the more than $900,000 that the Fono cut from several government projects under the budget’s Special Programs, which is administered by the Governor’s Office.

Earlier this month the governor met with the Fono leaders and one of the issues discussed dealt with the Special Session. Asked if he was going to call a special session before the end of 2015, the governor said, "it all depends on some of ASG’s programs we are working on, such as the matter of the bond to finance the setting up of a the government owned and operated Charter Bank."

Lolo told Samoa News on Tuesday that other issues, such as confirmation of nominations to boards and commissions, as well as any proposed legislation could be taken up when the Fono returns next January for the 3rd Regular Session of the 34th Legislature.

[PIR editor’s note: Samoa News reported that ‘While Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has yet to confirm if he will be seeking re-election next year, he did say that the Lolo/Lemanu Administration will continue "our work in serving the people" of American Samoa and leave it to the people to decide for themselves the government’s service for the past three years. ... Instead the governor told Samoa News, "Personally, to me, as long as I am functioning, able to carry out my work, my duties, and serve the needs of our people as the governor, that’s what I will continue to do."’]

"The bond issue for the charter bank is an important matter," he said, but didn’t elaborate further.

Issued by the American Samoa Economic Development Authority (ASEDA), the Series B bond, has yet to be sold and there is no time frame for when it will happen, while Series A & C, have already been sold with proceeds of about $50 million held in a trust account at a New York bank.

Cody Deeter, with the financial advisors Lewis Young Robertson & Burningham, is optimistic that the Series B Bond will be sold before the end of the year. (See Samoa News edition Oct. 28 for details.)

The House version of an Administration bill that redirects to Series C Bond repayment a certain percentage of tax revenues from alcoholic beverages, beer and cigarette taxes remains pending in the Senate. Currently these tax revenues are all earmarked to pay one of the two loans from the ASG Employees’ Retirement Fund. Samoa News understands that this is one of the measures that the Administration wants considered during a special session.

The Senate opted not to act on this measure two days before the end of the previous 2nd Regular Session which closed on Oct. 1, because certain financial reports sought by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee were never received from ASG Treasurer Uelinitone Tonumaipea, who is also the ASEDA board chairman.

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