During yesterday’s House session, Tualauta Rep. Larry Sanitoa voiced his disappointment over the lack of cooperation from the American Samoa Economic Stimulus and Recover Office (ASESRO) in providing requested financial reports.
Sanitoa said he requested the reports during last year’s fiscal year 2012 budget hearings and nothing has come through at all. He is again requesting ASESRO to provide the latest update report on American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), or stimulus money, ongoing funded projects, ARRA funding that was reprogrammed, a list of the projects that were funded by the reprogrammed money and a report on any money being returned to the feds.
He also requested a report from ASESRO and the Development Bank of American Samoa (DBAS) on the status of the federal 1602 Low Income loan program, which is administered locally by DBAS.
“I’ve been inundated with calls from constituents saying that they still have a ways to go on their  project, but there’s no money left,” said Sanitoa. “Also, I’m concerned that if this program gets audited, and there is a serious problem, ASG might have to pay this money back.”
Sanitoa also requested reports from LBJ Medical Center. He is seeking the latest revenue and expenditures report, latest financial projections for the entire fiscal year 2012, a summary on the most pressing needs, i.e. medications, etc; a copy of procedures on the Sliding Scale program for Low Income families; and a copy of the administrative policy on the 10% pay up front for past due bills before a person gets service.
The lawmaker wants these reports prior to the House Health/Hospital Committee conducting a hearing on the LBJ financial situation. The hearing, originally set for tomorrow, is now rescheduled for next Tuesday.
FUNDING FOR SWAINS ISLAND TRANSPORTATION
Rep. Alexander Eli Jennings yesterday announced during the House session that he is currently working on ways to reinstate funding for transportation for Swains Island. The delegate said this move came after Gov. Togiola Tulafono line-item vetoed $65,000 for the Swains Island transportation included in the FY 2012 budget.
When the governor vetoed the bill, he said there is no need to provide transportation funding for Swains Island, for medical treatment or any other reason, because no one lives there.
Initial funding for this purpose was $25,000, which was already included in the budget, but the Fono added an additional $30,000 increasing the amount. However, the governor line-item vetoed two budget items, which were the transportation for Swains and additional money put into a budget item for the Department of Local Government.
“There is no pressing need to provide anyone with transportation from the Swains Island, either for medical treatment or any other reason, because no one is known to reside there currently,” the governor explained in a letter to the Fono last September.
“For those calling upon the government who need assistance with coordinating transportation to visit Swains from other parts of the territory, a supplemental appropriations request will be made for this purpose at the next session of the Legislature,” he added.
SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION
On their third day in session Senators unanimously approved a Senate Concurrent Resolution, conveying the deepest condolences and sympathies of the Legislature and the people of American Samoa to Mrs. Mokamarie Ahutoa Amituana’i and the Amituana’i family on the recent passing of Senator Amituana’i Eteuatu Ene II and paid tribute to his service to his family, his village, district and the people of American Samoa.
The SCR states the late Senator Amituana’i was a devoted senator, high chief, husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather and brother.
Samoa News reporter Fili Sagapolutele contributed to this report.
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