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reporters@samoanews.com

CARGO CONTAINER VESSEL DETAINED BY USCG

U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Steven Caskey confirmed yesterday that the cargo container vessel, Southern Lily 2, is being detained in Pago Pago while an investigation is underway for possible violations of international marine pollution law.

The Singapore flagged vessel sailed into the Port of Pago Pago last Friday and will remain here due to the ongoing investigation said Caskey, supervisor of the USCG Marine Safety Detachment Unit American Samoa. 

“There is no time frame at this point as to when the investigation will conclude,” Caskey told Samoa News yesterday in a brief phone interview. He also said a Singapore class surveyor is on island and they were scheduled to meet yesterday with the Coast Guard as part of the investigation.

Lloyd’s List Australia website identifies the Southern Lily 2 as a fully-cellular container ship operating on Pacific Asia Express’ Pacific Direct Line. It reported the vessel being detained in the territory for possible pollution violations.

TAO INDEPENDENCE IMPEDED BY INADEQUATE FUNDING

The Territorial Audit Office’s progress continues to be impeded due to lack of full cooperation by government departments being audited as well as TAO's inability to access and obtain financial data and/or records in a timely manner reports Territorial Auditor Bob Dantini.

TAO doesn’t have online access to ASG’s financial system, said Dantini in TAO’s second quarter performance report for fiscal year 2012, Jan. 1-Mar. 31, 2012, and went on to say that independence is critical for government auditing to be effective and a key ingredient to ensure independence is an adequate and stable funding mechanism.

“Per capita, TAO is the lowest funded audit office in the Pacific region,” said Dantini. The TAO office is staffed with four career service employees and one full-time contract employee. It is in the process of hiring one additional contract auditor and recruiting another.

TAO was in the red by the end of the 2nd quarter, overspending its $67,499 budget by $3,346.

Thankfully, said Dantini, the governor and the Fono have been supportive in the past but without a guaranteed funding mechanism the future of TAO is uncertain at best.

“Reliance on either branch of government to fund ongoing operations of TAO, negatively impairs independence,” he said.

He also stated that TAO will only be effective and its future secure if local audit capacity can be developed. “Reliance on external professionals to lead TAO is expensive and there is a risk that positions can’t be filled,” he said. “We currently have a plan to develop local auditors but need additional resources to recruit locally and be successful.

WORLD POPULATION DAY PROCLAIMED IN AMERICAN SAMOA

Gov. Togiola Tulafono issued a proclamation on June 15 in observance of World Population Day on July 11, for the territory to join nations around the world to raise awareness of the impact population concerns have on our everyday lives.

“...in island settings such as ours, the impact of population cannot be ignored, affecting our environment, economic development and ability to provide needed social services,” said Togiola, who pointed out that the US remains the only industrialized nation without a formalized population policy and yet remains the third most populous nation in the world with a lifestyle that has one of the highest impacts on our shared global environment.

He said ASG strongly commits itself to addressing population concerns through efforts by the territory’s Population Commission to create a population policy. He proclaims “American Samoa’s on going efforts to raise awareness” and urges all citizens to take notice of this day and the impact that population has on our islands.”

Established in May 2009, the Population Commission shall, among other things, provide a dynamic, integrated forum for ASG, private sector and community members to actively assist with the management of population pressure in the territory.



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