Am. Samoa Government To Play ‘Smaller Roll’ In Economy

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

‘Proactive government’ envisioned to support private-sector

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, May 4, 2016) – Although the public sector will play a "smaller role" in the overall economic development of American Samoa, a government workforce board is advocating a "proactive government" to implement innovative and enterprising solutions for the territory’s economic viability for the 21st century, according to the American Samoa State Unified Plan.

The 106-page document, released Mar. 4 this year, was put forth by the American Samoa Workforce Investment Board (ASWIB), which says in order to diversify the local economy, it "calls for the private sector to assume a leadership role in building the economy and articulating the needs of our local employment sector."

"Because American Samoa is postured to grow in the next decade, we anticipate all private industries to grow," according to ASWIB. "It is our intent for the public sector to play a smaller role in the overall economy of American Samoa."

It is ASWIB’s belief that the local government should enable real economic growth by assuming a role as a facilitator for economic growth via incentives and implementing positive and proactive policies that spur economic growth and encourage entrepreneurial activities.

ASWIB calls for the Government to track economic growth and capital investments through the use of diagnostic tools and properly measured data. Additionally, the government should pursue a multi-track approach for developing the Territory’s physical, human, and financial infrastructures through assistance and support.

Overall, the ASWIB says it advocates a "proactive government who grasps the complexity of our current economy by implementing innovative and enterprising solutions to effect positive and sustainable economic viability for the 21st century."

It suggests that part of ASG’s responsibility is to address numerous pending and pressing federal issues impacting the territory. Among those issues are: to eliminate certain tax and tariff benefits, on-going international trade agreements, the application of minimum wage rates, air service restrictions, harbor maintenance costs, and matching funds for capital improvement projects.

If some of these issues are not resolved, ASWIB said the territory’s "economy will continue to struggle and remain stagnant."

As an integral part of the territory’s workforce system, it is the hope of ASWIB that ASG "will remain focused on positively affecting our efforts" by - among other things - reversing the long-standing trend of budget deficits; improve the overall fiscal standing of ASG through the refinement of accounting, auditing, enforcement, and disclosure practices; strengthening commercial laws so as to improve private sector initiatives and incentives; and reducing discretionary spending.

Other efforts include improving business and economic development protocol such as immigration, employment practices, tax treatment, and enforcement, and increase revenues driven by pro-business tax incentives that in turn generate greater revenues for the Territory.

"By focusing on these improvements, we believe that the public sector will provide higher quality, better coordinated, and more efficient services to the citizenry of American Samoa and do so by reducing its overall role in our economic system," ASWIB said.

OTHER INFORMATION

American Samoa’s Plan provides a wide range of issues and information and the ASWIB is currently accepting public comments on the document. A complete copy of the Plan, including where to submit comments, can be obtained online: http://www.asdoe.net/ and click the tap "american-samoa-unified-workforce-plan"

To assist the community, a PDF copy of the plan is available here by clicking on attachment.

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