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FY 2013 BUDGET BOOK TO BE READY THIRD WEEK OF AUGUST

The Fono will have to wait for later this month before getting the fiscal year 2013 budget book, which is currently being printed at the ASG Print Shop.

When asked yesterday morning as to when the budget book will be sent to the Fono, Office of Budget and Planning director Malemo Tausaga told Samoa News the budget was recently sent to the Print Shop and it takes about two weeks for the printing process to be completed.

So “we’re looking at the third week of August for budget submission to the Fono,” said Malemo, who also provided the same information to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee during a hearing yesterday morning.

Committee chairman Sen. Lemanu Peleti Mauga shared this information with his colleagues during the Senate session and Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie encouraged committees to conduct hearings on other bills and matters pending prior to submission of the annual budget for review, debate and approval.

WITNESS SUBPOENAED FOR TUGBOAT PROJECT

Wallace Thompson is scheduled to appear this afternoon on a subpoena issued by the Senate Investigative Committee, who is probing the spending of the $20 million loan ASG received from the ASG Employees Retirement Fund.

Thompson will testify on the ASG deals and purchases of the “Tug boat and barges” from Honolulu based Marisco Ltd. This project was funded with proceeds from the loan and  government financial records with SIC shows that this project was allocated about $3.2 million but spent an additional $1 million.

Thompson’s subpoena also directed him to produce for inspection and copying all files, records, correspondence, reports, including electronic data and communications, in his possession, or the possession of his company Maritime Services, Inc., pertaining in any American Samoa Government’s contract, transactions, dealings and events with Marisco, Ltd, and any other involved parties, for the purchase, acquisition, servicing, refurbishment, and transportation of marine vessels, barges and any associated or related equipment, including purchase, shipment, leasing of any property, whether government or personal in nature, from the period of 2008 to present.

SIC says Thompson is being subpoenaed because he was involved in this project from the beginning.

Samoa News understands that at least four other people were initially on the list to be subpoenaed for today’s hearing, but the committee found out they are off island and therefore subpoenas were not served.

HOUSE COMMITTEE SEEKS SPENDING REPORT ON $3 MILLION FOR LBJ

House Health/LBJ Committee chairman Rep. Pulele’iite L. Tufele has requested the LBJ Medical Center management to provide a complete report on how the hospital spent the $3 million it received from government loan proceeds approved by the Fono and signed into law early this year.

The loan was a financial assistance package to help Medical Center at a time when it was faced with a shortfall in revenues. The loan, from the ASG Workmen’s Compensation Account, is to be repaid with the new 2% wage tax and thereafter will go to fund LBJ operations.

Spending of the $3 million is one of the reports requested by Pulele’iite for the committee to review prior to the LBJ hearing, which was initially set for tomorrow morning but has since being continued to next Monday due to conflicting scheduling and other pressing obligations for some committee members as well as LBJ officials.

Another report, or at least information sought by the committee, regards increases in salaries for certain LBJ employees, after some lawmakers received reports of pay hikes at the hospital, while the rate increases were implemented July 2.

The committee wants the reports submitted by tomorrow for review prior to Monday’s hearing, which also includes looking at the financial status of LBJ.



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