Samoa News asked the governor’s office: “Is ASG paying for this travel and [what is] the governor’s office justification for the governor attending these meetings, paid for by tax payers when ASG is faced with a $44 million deficit?”
RESPONSE: “Am. Samoa stands to lose more than the cost of travel” if he doesn't go says Iu
The governor’s office has defended Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga’s upcoming off-island trip — his first official visit to Washington D.C. — as chief executive, and the trip to the U.S. is paid for by tax payers. The trip covers several meetings including those with federal agencies.
Lolo, who will be accompanied by First Lady Cynthia Moliga, the governor’s chief of staff Fiu Johnny Saelua and a security officer, departs next Monday night and many of the meetings will be held in Washington D.C. The governor and his delegation return Mar. 7.
The governor’s executive assistant Iulogologo Joseph Pereira confirmed that ASG is paying for the trip. “For the governor not to meet with the Federal leaders he needs to network with to ensure that American Samoa receives all the help it desperately needs, given its current financial plight, would constitute negligence on his part,” was Iulogologo’s reply.
“This is the governor's first meeting with these people especially when the Federal government leadership is also changing. American Samoa stands to lose more than the cost of travel to DC where decisions affecting the territory are made,” he said yesterday morning.
“We have many challenges for which we need federal assistance to facilitate their mitigation. There are also many economic issues for which federal and private assistance is needed,” he explained.
“While the Governor is doing all he can to save money by the cost containment measures that are in place, including the Governor's Office, there are costs that are necessary to facilitate the generation of greater benefits for the Territory,” he said.
And while “the governor is no stranger to the Federal scene, face to face meetings with the new leaders who influence the fate of the territory is crucial. The bulk of our budget is federally financed. It behooves the Governor therefore, to explore all avenues to ensure that American Samoa receives help,” said Iulogologo, who is also traveling with the governor.
Lolo and his wife will attend the annual meeting this month of the National Governor’s Association, whose members and spouses will later be hosted by the White House.
Iulogologo said Lolo and Mrs. Moliga will attend the White House dinner with the U.S. President. Mrs. Moliga will be involved with programs and activities scheduled for all First Ladies including getting exposure to all types of initiatives which First Ladies can spearhead within their own States and Territories.
Lolo will also attend the annual meeting of the Western Governor’s Association, Pacific Basin Development Council, and the federal Interagency Group on Insular Affairs. He will also be meeting officials of the U.S. Department of Interior, Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, as well as Hawai’i’s U.S. Congressional Delegation and the territory’s Congressman Faleomavaega Eni.
In Hawai’i he plans to meet with officials of the Army Corps of Engineers, Hawaiian Airlines, Bank of Hawai’i, and other banks.