Lolo assures StarKist action is ongoing to address needs
Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga has earmarked $2.5 million from the Capital Improvement Projects Funds for Fiscal Year 2014 to refurbish the 500-ton railway where the smaller fishing vessels can be repaired, while the main railway is occupied by purse seiners and larger vessels.
This was revealed in a letter sent to Star Kist’s Chief Executive Officer, Sam H. Lee last week. The governor also said a new chain will be installed in the main railway to improve safety and efficiency of the main slipway and this project is slated to be completed by the end of the year.
Lolo also wrote he’s already written to Lt. Colonel Thomas Asbury of the United States Army Corps of Engineers seeking his recommendation on the best options for the construction of additional docking space to accommodate more fishing vessels, noting the urgency of the project.
"Along the same lines, I have readjusted the thrust of our Capital Improvement Projects Plan placing focus on the development of our harbor with the basic aim of improving its efficiency," he wrote.
The governor also informed Lee that a Task Force has been established and charged with the function of reviewing all port/harbor fees and charges. “The product of this work is almost ready for my review and I will seek advice of the major port users regarding issues deemed to be creating impediments and hampering operations and their cost effectiveness,” said the governor.
Lolo pointed out he will be meeting with the ASPA Board of Directors and ASPA’s CEO Utu Abe Malae to explore their plan relating to the mandate laid out to reduce the cost of electricity. “The abatement of ASPA’s fuel supplying function is hoped to improve ASPA’s efficiency and thus result in lower electrical rates."
"Please rest assured that I am taking aggressive steps to address this critical issue,” he added.
The governor goes on to say that the ASPA CEO has confirmed that a one acre land parcel is immediately available to StarKist for its expansion needs. This land is located on the west side of the old StarKist cold storage.
Samoa News understands the acre of land is where the old Satala ASPA office building was located before it was destroyed by the tsunami in September 2009. The new ASPA plant is to be located where the old StarKist Samoa cold storage used to be.
The governor said in his letter that Star Kist General Manager Brett Butler is currently working with the Chairman/CEO of the Shipyard for an access entry for the slipway side to ease connection to StarKist’s dock area.
According to the letter, in addition, the governor is collaborating with Congressman Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin on a strategy to extend the 30A tax incentive. “We have been in constant communication on this issue, and it is my hope, if I do decide to attend the Investment Summit in Washington DC towards the end of October, to meet with the Congressman on this particular issue.”
The governor stated that he and Faleomavaega are already taking steps to address the minimum wage issue which is crucial to StarKist’s competitiveness. “We cannot wait until 2015 rolls around before we do something.”
He further pointed out to Lee that he does understand the gravity of the current situation and improving the economic development competitive and advantage and “I will keep you abreast on the local efforts to secure the competitive position”.
Also in this letter, the governor told Lee that the 50th Anniversary of Star Kist was certainly an event that will long be remembered because it manifested the resilience and the spirit of the workers which has assured the company’s survival over the years.
The governor thanked the StarKist CEO and Jaechul Kim, StarKist’s President for assuring StarKist’s future commitment to American Samoa.
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