American Samoa Governor Tells Lawmakers To Be Prepared For Changes At Federal Level

Lolo to his cabinet: 'Stay awake and be prepared'

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Dec. 7, 2016) – With possible changes looming in the federal government, through the new administration of US President-elect Donald Trump, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has called on his cabinet to be prepared for any impending federal changes that will trickle down to American Samoa, impacting the local government.

Speaking at last Friday’s cabinet meeting, Lolo told directors that with the change of federal administration looming next month, it means any changes made in Washington D.C. would trickle down to American Samoa.

Therefore, he said, the next six months are going to be difficult for ASG and the governor called on his cabinet to stay awake and be prepared for such changes — although he didn’t identify any specific changes.

Lolo did tell directors to keep a close watch on federal reimbursements, in which local revenues are used first and get reimbursed later by the federal grantors. He said reimbursements that are usually received every month or every two months, could probably take three to six months to process at the federal level.

The governor believes some good things for American Samoa will come out of a Trump Administration going forward. “The only thing we can do is be patient and be prepared for any changes that happen so that ASG will be able to address them accordingly.”

The governor reminded directors that ASG’s cost containment measures, which were implemented in January 2013 after the Lolo Administration took over the helm of government, remain in place. And he told directors to remember not to use a past practice, in which permission is asked later after an action is taken. Speaking in Samoa about the practice, “ta muamua le aufa’i, ae mulimuli fa’anoi.”

As the Lolo Administration prepares for its new four-year term in office, the governor told directors that as a government “we face new challenges every day” and therefore don’t give up so easy. He pointed out that ASG is not the only government that is faced with challenges on a daily basis as it happens to all governments around the world.

He revealed a meeting earlier that day with “a leader” from Samoa, saying that “it was very interesting the perception” of the leader when it comes to American Samoa’s relationship with the US.

Lolo said that the leader from Samoa believes that “the only way we can survive is for our government to be independent” of the federal government. He didn’t provide the identity of the Samoa leader or any other information about the meeting.

While it’s “good to hear from people on their beliefs,” the governor said to the directors “no one knows our people better then us, as leaders. It’s us who know our people better than anybody, even in the US and Samoa. It’s us who understand our people better.”

“What we need to do is develop our relationship — firstly with the United States, secondly with our neighboring (countries),” he said and reiterated that there will never be a time when “you’re free from the challenges faced by the government.”

“Even us, everyday,” Lolo said, referring to himself and Lt. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga. “We look at ways of how to solve government problems.” For example, every time the financial and cash flow reports are brought in from Treasury Department, “there’s always an issue to deal with.”

Lolo also said that he and Lemanu believe in never giving up easily and this has been in place since the administration took office in January 2013.

“There is a solution to address problems that come up in government. So don’t give up on things happening now,” he told directors. “Let’s all come together [and] do what we do best — team work, collaboration — that’s all we need.”

While the task faced by the government is not easy, Lolo said, “there’s always hope, there’s always room, there’s always a way out in any problem.”

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

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