American Samoa Governor, Lieutenant Launch Reelection Campaign

Team Lolo/Lemanu stresses economic management of budget

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, August 15, 2016) – With less than two months left in current fiscal year 2016, the Lolo Administration is forecasting that the government will close out FY 2016 in the black, says Lt. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga, who — on behalf of Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga — delivered the English speech during the Lolo and Lemanu re-election campaign kick off last Saturday afternoon at the Samoa Sports Center in Tafuna.

Lolo, who offered an impromptu Samoan speech, told the large crowd, which included former Gov. Togiola Tulafono, a close relative of Lemanu, that the many accomplishments by the administration in the last three years and about seven months, was achieved with the tremendous support of the Fono leaders.

LEMANU’S ADDRESS

Speaking on behalf of the governor, Lemanu conveyed gratitude to the community for their support of the current administration, which took office on January 2013. He publicly thanked the governor for “continuing to have confidence in me and going out of your way to continuously let me know in some small measures I helped ease the burden of governance placed on your shoulders.”

“Whatever God has in store for us, I want you to know governor, that my life has been enriched since becoming your partner and I know that having the opportunity to serve our people along with you gave meaning to my life,” he said, and also publicly offered his appreciation to everyone who offered support for him and his family last month when his wife, Pohakalani, passed away in Honolulu.

For the Lolo and Lemanu bid for re-election, Lemanu said he and the governor “are committed with a shared vision to improve the lives of our people and to secure a promising future for our children and generations to come.”

He also said that the administration is working together with the private sector, non-profit organizations, and villages to continue to improve the territory in many ways and areas. “I am proud to say that the overall welfare and economy of our territory has improved and it will keep improving if American Samoa votes to keep us in office,” Lemanu said, adding that the administration has made strides on government spending and revenue collections.

Additionally, “We’ve ended fiscal years in the black, and lower fluctuating deficits,” he said, that they “are 99.9% sure, and confident that at the end of FY 2016, we will close in the black with a reduced deficit.”

Lemanu outlined several examples of what the administration has accomplished and achieved as well as areas in which the $79milllion in bond proceeds were invested to “not only allow our economy to grow but will improve the lives of our people.” Among the investments proceeds funded is the ASG owned Territorial Bank of American Samoa, that Lemanu said is scheduled to be open Sept. 30 this year.

There are big concerns from several lawmakers of the long-term ASG debts created by the sales of the bonds. However, Lemanu said, “The future generation will not be settled with our debts, because we have built an economic system with the capacity to produce sufficient revenue not only to liquidate the associated bond debts, but also to continue investment strategies for continuous economic growth.”

In the area of electricity, he pointed to the reduction of the cost of electricity benefiting everyone in the community. “Your government has managed to lower the cost of electricity to 25 cents per kilowatt,” he said adding that the new 26-mega watt power plant in Satala is scheduled to be open at the end of October this year.

For the Manu’a islands, “your government has invested heavily on the development of Manu’a. This effort can only be successful with the support of infrastructure, especially in water transportation,” he said and noted that by mid October this year, the new vessel MV Manu’atele that cost ASG $13 million will be commissioned.

Additionally, there are now two gas stations in the island group — one each on Ofu and Ta’u islands; improvements to the airports at Ofu and Fitiuta; and ASG entities now have offices in Manu’a.

Furthermore, by the end of the year, the Manu’a islands will totally be powered by solar energy thanks to the American Samoa Power Authority for their aggressive push to finish the project for a clean source of energy.

For senior citizens, the administration has dedicated the month of May every year to honor them as well as the annual Governor’s Christmas celebration program for the territory’s elders.

Lemanu, a military veteran, also paid tribute to American Samoans in the US Armed Forces. “We and all of American Samoa are always in debt to all of you for putting your life on the line so we can sleep peacefully at night and feel safe at all times. Thank you for your service,” he said.

In closing he thanked American Samoa for electing them to office and, “we hope our collective effort to improve American Samoa going forward reflects our … commitment that we are servants to the people of American Samoa.”

“With the many accomplishments, we are confident that we have to know how to keep improving and safeguarding American Samoa. We again ask for your vote [in November],” he concluded.

LOLO’S REMARKS

In his speech, Lolo said that the many issues cited in Lemanu’s address are things that any elected leader deals with every day and former Gov. Togiola Tulafono, can attest to that.

He said the accomplishments by the administration would not have been achieved without the support of the Fono leaders and lawmakers. “It’s a joint effort to improve the lives of our people,” he said.

Lolo went on to point out that the history of governors elected to office shows that no governor had served four or less years in office. He said the reason for this is that “God knows that you can’t finish the work [planned] in a short period of time,” adding that he has spoken to Lemanu that the Administration has a lot of more work to be completed.

He also said that “the work load of a governor is not an easy task and Togiola is a witness to that. He says a governor can hardly sleep at night and does not have enough rest because a governor is always worried as to what tomorrow will bring for the people of American Samoa.

“A governor is worried everyday if there is enough money to cover payroll, are the people well protected, and are there areas that need more improvements,” said Lolo, adding that there are times when financial resources are not sufficient to address all issues that are faced daily by the government.

And when one issue is addressed, another has to be set aside. For example, the road project for Alataua County was set-aside because there were other urgent needs. He said work is now moving to roads in Alataua.

He pointed out that he and Lemanu do not depend on their own strength to govern the territory but depend on the strength and support of the Fono, traditional leaders — in working together to ensure that service by the government is up to par. 

Lolo went on to challenged the youth who want to become leaders, including being a matai, saying, in the future to be well prepared and that the work of a leader involves looking at the lives of the people, families, churches, villages, as well as the protection of Samoan culture and not just protecting financial resources.

“And as a leader you have to set a good example of being a good leader and person,” he said.

YOUTH REPRESENTATIVE

Speaking on behalf of the youth at the kick off was Tafuna High School student, Kiso Skelton, who expressed thanks to the Lolo Administration “for always supporting the youth of American Samoa. Thank you for providing us with a lot of great opportunities to help us become responsible and productive citizens.”

He also thanked the administration for initiating youth programs to prepare the youth of American Samoa for their future. “This administration has proved that the government is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” he said.

Skelton cited changes implemented by the administration for the territory’s youth. For example, the youth center facility in Pago Pago, improvements to school facilities such as those at Samoana High School, Fagaitua High School and Aua Elementary as well as new school buses.

Additionally, he pointed to youth graduating from off island with degrees now know they will have a chance to work in government upon returning home, as well as the Summer Youth Employment Program, which provides proper training and education for students heading into the labor force.

“The youth reminds you all, there is no such thing as I alone can fix it, because unity is what makes us strong and powerful. And we are always stronger when we are together,” he told the audience.

The Samoa News
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