FY 2014 budget hearings set to begin Tuesday, Sept. 2
The Fono has informed Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga about the new schedule for joint budget hearings - set to begin next Tuesday and last for three weeks - to review the final fiscal year 2014 budget.
“We look forward to working together with your administration so that we can ‘all’ provide better service to the people of the Territory,” according to a joint letter to the governor from Sen. Laolagi Savali Vaeao, chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and Rep. Timusa Tini C. Lam Yuen, chairman of the House Budget and Appropriations Committee.
Change for start up of the joint budget hearings - which were due to begin this past Wednesday - followed a request by the governor because three top officials of the government were involved in meetings with a delegation from the U.S. Department of Education reviewing the ASG high risk status.
According to the hearing schedule, regular daily sessions for the Senate and House will begin at 8:30a.m. followed an hour later with the budget hearings that will continue in the afternoon after lunch break.
First up to testify for the government on Tuesday is ASG Treasury Dr. Falema’o ‘Phil’ M. Pili and Office of Budget and Planning director Catherine Aigamaua-Saelua. They will be questioned by lawmakers on revenue forecast for ASG as well as expenditures for the entire government in the new fiscal year. They will also testify on their own department’s and agency’s budget.
In the afternoon is a review of the budget for the Governor’s Office, along with all offices and entities under the jurisdiction of this office, such as the Sports Complex, Historic Preservation Office and the Medicaid Office.
Last day of budget hearings is Sept. 20 with the Department of Public Safety, while the Fono’s budget review is held the day before. Once budget hearings are done, lawmakers will start debating the budget.
Meanwhile, some committees in both the Senate and House are planning to hold their separate hearings earlier in the day before the start of the regular session. For the Senate, the Judiciary Committee is scheduled to review two administration bills at 7:30a.m. next Tuesday.
The two measures are: criminalizing human trafficking and involuntary servitude and setting the ceiling at $500,000 for all claims against the government. So far only the Attorney General is on the list of witnesses being called to testify.
Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie urged committee chairmen to look at pending bills and appointments from the administration for hearings to be held prior to the start of the regular session.
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