Fono in Review
BILL TO INCREASE ANNUITIES FOR ASG RETIREES
An administration bill has been introduced in first reading in both the Senate and House of Representatives that would increase the annuities for the American Samoa Government Employee Retirement Fund.
According to the bill this act would assist the government employees in caring for their families by providing modest increases in their monthly retirement checks, and because of the pressing financial needs of our retired employees, it's deemed appropriate for this act to become effective immediately upon passage by the legislature and approval by the governor.
The bill amends the retirement payments, so that each member shall receive an annual service retirement annuity equal to 2% of the average annual salary of the member multiplied by the total years of service up to a maximum of 30 years. This would be effective immediately and payable from Oct. 1, 2010 as applicable. The annual service retirement annuity is increased to allow a 2% (currently 4%) increase for all retires who have retired on, or prior to Sept. 30, 2010, (currently September 30, 2008) and this increase will not apply to retirees who have retired on or after October 2010 (currently October 2008).
The Senate Retirement Committee will meet today to discuss this bill, while the House Retirement Committee already met yesterday and have agreed to proceed with the second reading of this bill.
IMMIGRATION BOARD MEMBERS CONFIRMATION HEARING ON MONDAY
The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, chaired by Florence Vaili Saulo has scheduled the confirmation hearing next week Monday for the newly appointed members of the Immigration Board, Frank Gaisoa Sr., Sherry Butler, Rev. Antere’a Misioka, Moetulu’i Sipili Fuiava and Fred Mamea.
According to the House resolution submitted before the Fono, all these individuals have lengthy records of service to their families and to the community at large. Gaisoa and Butler are successful local business people and between them they have employed dozens of people . Misioka is a respected leader of the Congregational Christian Church in the territory and is currently serving the village of Amanave.
Moetului has retired and returned to American Samoa after spending over 40 years pursuing a successful business career in the United States. Fred is retired from a long and distinguished career in government service and is a former Director of the Department of Human Resources.
Gov. Lolo M. Lolo noted that all these nominees possess the requisite knowledge and understanding of the role of the Immigration board in protecting our borders and preserving economic opportunities for the people of American Samoa.
BILL TO INCREASE NUMBER OF MEMBERS OF IMMIGRATION BOARD
An administration bill was also introduced in the Senate and House yesterday to increase the Immigration Board in order to broaden its base of membership and increase the number of members necessary to constitute a quorum.
According to the senate measure, it is in the interest of good governance to increase public participation in key boards and commissions of the government. A range of diverse and qualified persons to the board enhances and invigorates the boards and commissions on which they serve.
The bill seeks to amend the board members from five to nine. “At least five of the members shall be nationals or citizens of the United States of American Samoa ancestry, and the members shall be appointed by the governor with the consent and the approval of the Legislature,” says the bill.
The nine members shall serve for five year terms, but for no more than two consecutive terms. The original appointees shall be appointed for terms of 1,2,3,4, or 5 years and shall serve on the board until a successor is approved. The board shall meet at times and places determined necessary by the chairman for conducting business of the board. The presence of at least five members shall be necessary to constitute a quorum and a vote of majority will be required to decide on any issue. All members of the board, including the chairman, shall be entitled to one vote.
ADMINISTRATION BILL TO INCREASE NUMBER OF TRUSTEES FOR ASG RETIREMENT FUND
Approved in first reading was an administration bill to increase the number of trustees of the American Samoa Government Employee Retirement fund and create greater flexibility on the qualifications of trustees.
The bill indicates that given the interest of good governance, the government employees retirement fund would benefit from increasing the size of the board from five to nine members, which will result in a more extensive range of skills and experienced resources being available to the benefit of the fund.
The responsibility for the proper administration of the fund and the direction of its policies shall be vested in a board of trustees consisting of nine members and at least two (currently three) members appointed by the governor who shall be members of the fund having a minimum five years of service; and seven (currently two) members appointed by the governor shall not be members of the fund “but shall include among them at least three members with experience in the private sector business community,” says the bill.
The governor in consultation with the board will decide upon suitable candidates to fill any board vacancy or vacancies, and the governor will choose his appointees from among those individuals, and send the names to the Fono for confirmation. The board shall select its own chairman says the bill.
FAGATOGO FAIPULE SEEKS BASKETBALL/VOLLEYBALL COURT
Fagatogo faipule Maugaoali’i Leapai Sipa Anoa’i is sponsoring a resolution requesting the governor to direct the Director of Parks and Recreation to reassess and complete the construction of a basketball/volleyball court and playground area for the youth of Fagatogo.
According to the resolution, to comply with the demands of the American Samoa Government and private businesses the village of Fagatogo has been deprived of proper recreational facilities for decades.
The impact of this has forced children to play between buildings, on the streets and in the stream banks. Since the development of Fagatogo Square over 30 years ago, there have been efforts put forth by the government to designate an area to replace the original cricket field and playground area that was used as the only recreational facility for Fagatogo, where Tedi of Samoa currently is now located.
The inclusion of a new basketball and volleyball court and playground area for Fagatogo was included in the New Urban Development Plan for Fagatogo during the Tauese and Togiola administrations and this development was intended to be done in five phases, four of which have been completed.
The fifth phase of the plan was to be the construction of a new basketball and volleyball court and playground in Fagatogo and there has been no progress on this.
Community Block Grant funds in the amount of $87,000 were previously earmarked for the construction of these facilities and the government is requested to develop and move forward with plans for the construction of these facilities to the east side of the Fagatogo Iseula boat shed near the stream.
It's further requested that a 15-foot fence and lights to surround the entire area for the safety of the children be installed. The youth and community as a whole, who suffer from high risk levels of obesity and high blood pressure, make the emphasis on physical activity a priority says the resolution.
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