American Samoa: Lolo Admin Concerned Over No Firm Word From Trump Admin About Funding

Bracing for cutbacks with American Samoa getting a large amount of federal funds for its operations including 90% of the budget for the Department of Education

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, February 04, 2017) –  With still no firm word from the Trump Administration when it comes to among other things, funding for the US territories, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has directed cabinet members, whose departments and agencies are funded with federal money, to keep a close watch on where these monies are spent. 

American Samoa gets a large amount of federal funds including grants for its operations. One of the major recipients of federal grants is the local Department of Education, whose budget is 90% funded by federal money and there is concern within ASG that the new Trump Administration will reduce funding for American Samoa. 

Speaking at last Friday’s cabinet meeting, the governor said that with the new administration of President Donald J. Trump, this is another big challenge for American Samoa. He said he has made contact throughout last week with Interior Department’s Office of Insular Affairs officials regarding American Samoa but it appears nothing is firmed up on the federal side. The governor didn’t elaborate on the specific issues discussed with OIA officials. 

“What we know is that this is not going to be easy for us,” Lolo said, and asked cabinet members whose agencies get federal money to make sure they know where these grants are spent and how they are spent. 

“We will be demanding that all the federal funding is accountable in the way it’s spent,” he told directors adding that ASG should be prepared for any changes coming out of the White House. 

Lolo also said that there are many planned major capital improvement projects for ASG and requested cabinet members compile a list of all their projects and submit it to his office for a complete ASG report, which he said he will take with him when heading to Washington D.C. for meetings this month. 

The governor is scheduled to depart Feb. 10 and will be joined by eight cabinet members. Among the meetings in the national’s capital is the annual National Governors Association Winter meeting, from Feb. 24-27. 

Lolo will also attend the annual meeting of the federal Interagency Group on Insular Areas (IGIA) scheduled for Feb. 22 and will address issues of concern to the territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

According to a notice from DOI’s Office of Insular Affairs, presentations at the meeting include the US Department of Health and Human Services on Priorities for improving health services of the territories; and Department of the Treasury regarding Long term debt management and lessons learned from the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA). 

IGIA identifies insular issues and makes recommendations to the President regarding these issues. 

Coinciding with the winter meeting of the National Governors' Association, IGIA's senior plenary session brings together the Governors and the Members of Congress from the four territories with their counterparts in the Executive Branch.

The Samoa News

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