Territorial Bank Of American Samoa Opens Its Doors

Governor thanks Bank of Hawaii for remaining in territory until alternative banking option found

By Joyetter Feagaimaalii-Luamanu

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Oct. 4, 2016) – “Today is history in the making. Not because we have dared to defy status quo, or endeavored to find banking solutions for our people, our businesses, and our economy, but more so because the leaders of our Territory have come together to find the answer to the crippling challenge affecting the quality of the lives of our people,” said Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga at the official opening of the Territorial Bank of American Samoa (TBAS) yesterday morning.

He said the solid collaboration, fashioned between the Legislative Branch and the Executive Branch, upon receipt of notification of the exodus of the Bank of Hawaii, facilitated this day.

According to Lolo it is a day of thanksgiving because without the commitment from the Fono leaders, the Senators, and the Representatives “it would have been only a dream or something that we would have continued to hope for. Your wisdom and vision will be forever remembered by generations to come.”

He thanked the Chairman, President, and CEO of Bank of Hawaii, Mr. Peter Ho, Lolo says they could have easily left us to fend for ourselves, but instead, Ho kept his promise not to leave American Samoa until a solution was found.

The governor also noted that BOH’s local services will terminate in 90 days and “I am confident the Territorial Bank of American Samoa will be far along its way to meet the banking needs of our people and our businesses.”

Gov. Lolo acknowledged the presence of Mark Rossi, Bank of Hawaii’s Vice Chairman, Chief Administrative Officer and General Council, who is personally representing Mr. Peter Ho.

“Additionally, I want to express our heartfelt gratitude to Bank of Hawaii for gifting us, all their assets, which include Bank of Hawaii’s local buildings, equipment, ATM machines, Bank Manager’s Home, etc.  This is an incredible gift to the people of American Samoa and I sincerely thank you,” he said.

Lolo further thanked the ASEDA for its diligence and commitment to seeking alternative financing for the Territory.

He then thanked the members of the TBAS board chaired by Utu Abe Malae, Vice Chairman Muagututi’a Steve Watson, Alo Dr. Paul Stevenson, Fuavailili Keniseli Lafaele, Papali’i Lauli’i Alofa, Ruth Matagi Fa’atili, and Salaia Gabbard.

“We have full confidence that you will successfully move this bank into the future. In any significant endeavor, there will always be risks but we have collectively taken steps to minimize these risks. We are of the humble opinion that the risks connected with taking no action would have far greater and more devastating results to our future economic, financial and social development.

“Our driving force has been and will continue to promote the welfare of our people,” the governor said, and pointed to the opening of the Territorial Bank of American Samoa being the result of that action.

In Samoan, Lolo stated that despite complaints about the bank, that’s life — there are people who are working towards a solution and there are people who will always complain, but the complaints also gives them ideas.

He said the main goal is to provide the service to the public. Lolo said that with this bank the public would have another option for banking purposes.

Chairman of TBAS and ASPA CEO, Utu Abe Malae in his remarks said the bank is starting small and it will grow a little bit at a time.

“So please give us a chance to make it work, and with everybody’s help in this great effort for the community,” he said, noting they can’t wait around for perfect conditions — that will never happen — instead they have to take control of the situation and the banking conditions are imperfect and there’s the need to improve the service. He urged the public to help in the success of this newly opened bank.

Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie also offered remarks in which he commended the Lolo and Lemanu Administration noting that this is a milestone. The Senate President thanked them for a job well done and for their hard work in opening the bank. “Today marks another special day that we have the Territorial bank of American Samoa, ‘we bank’, people of American Samoa.” 

He also pointed out to Lolo and Lemanu that there are negative comments about the bank, but that’s all that is happening, complaining but they do nothing.

Gaoteote urged Lolo and Lemanu to be brave and not give in to the negative comments. “This is the people’s bank and I will call it, ‘we bank’.”

The last speaker was Rossi who noted the hard work put into the establishing of this new bank. He said banking is a complex and difficult institution and it takes a lot of work to make it work. Rossi congratulated American Samoa for the opening and said this is a major step for the future success and economic success of American Samoa.

Governor Lolo also presented Rossi with the concurrent resolution from the Fono to the BoH for their many years of service in the territory.

ASIDE

Utu during his remarks also corrected the numbers in one of the gubernatorial team’s advertisement about the bank, “Hope for Sustainable Banking in the Territory”. Samoa News will report on this portion of his remarks in a separate story this week.

The Samoa News
Copyright © 2016. The Samoa News. All Rights Reserved

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