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With grant funds included, Fono increases ASPA budget ceiling

fili@samoanews.com

The Fono joint budget committee yesterday approved a new budget ceiling for the American Samoa Power Authority in the current fiscal year 2012 from $90 plus million to $109.48 million after adding on federal grants not included last year during budget numerations by the Fono..

By increasing the FY 2012 budget ceiling that means the FY 2012 supplemental to cover the next six months until the end of July this year goes up to $60.37 million from $45.39 — which was introduced early this week in both the Senate and House.

Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee chairman Sen. Lemanu Peleti Mauga explained during the joint budget hearing that he does not have the breakdown on all federal grants for ASPA, only the estimated amount of just over $10 million for the entire fiscal year.

He said the federal grant amount is included in the new FY 2012 calculation and explained how it’s been calculated: $109.48 million divided by 12 months, which comes to $9.12 million per month.

For the first four months of FY 2012 — Oct. 1, 2011 to Jan. 31, 2012, which was given an approved budget of only $30.86 million — the new amount is $36.49 million, leaving a balance of $5.62 million, according to the committee.

The committee’s budget calculation shows the next six months at $9.12 million per month — which comes to $54.74 million but the extra $5.62 million left over from the first four months of the fiscal year brings the total to $60.37 million when rounded off, which is the new amended total of the FY 2012 supplemental bill.

Of the total supplemental, which is $60.37 million, $46.48 million is allocated to electric division; $6.03 million to the water division; $6.03 million for the waste water division; and $1.81 million for solid waste division.

The supplemental budget was approved yesterday during second reading in both the Senate and House with third reading scheduled for today.

House Speaker Savali Talavou Ale informed lawmakers that the House session today will commence as soon as one of the committee hearings is completed. The reason, he says, is to have the House version of the bill approved and sent to the Senate for their endorsement and this version needs to be given final approval by next Tuesday in time for submission to the governor for approval. Their deadline to submit the budget is before midnight Tuesday night, January 31.

OTHER ISSUES

During the joint budget hearing, Sen. Galeai Tu’ufuli requested that ASPA provide a complete list of its current vendors and amounts owed to each vendor.

Sen. Lualemaga Faoa asked that — with the changes made to the budget ceiling for ASPA — is the Fono leadership still pursuing legal action against the authority over the interpretation of Title 15 of the local statue? (ASPA claims its board has the authority to approve the annual budget.)

“Yes”, was the reply from Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie about pursuing legal action. “We are doing this budget for the betterment of our community not for ASPA,” said Gaoteote.

 



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