Gov hopes to stop "brain drain" with new pay policy
Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has established a new entry level compensation policy for college graduates with bachelor's and master's degrees entering the American Samoa Government workforce in an effort to keep “our intellectual resources” from leaving the territory.
According to the governor in a Jan. 6 ‘Executive Policy Declaration’ memo, all employees, who are college graduates, entering the ASG workforce, will be compensated at the “entry level” of $23,000 or $27,000 per annum for a bachelor or a master's degree respectively.
Further the Department of Human Resources is instructed to review the current government workforce to determine college graduates making below the established threshold salary levels to ensure appropriate salary adjustments are executed.
Additionally, the DHR director will also develop a formula to ensure “equity is practiced differentiating compensation for college graduates by years of experience.”
The governor says the decision to articulate this new compensation policy is made, fully mindful of the associated financial implications, along with recognizing perceived inequity for all college and university graduates who have been in government workforce for some time, but whose salaries have been below the new compensation level established under this Executive Policy Declaration.
“The government has invested its limited funds to send some of our students to colleges and universities on scholarship as well as parents who invested their own money for their children’s college education and to witness the current trend of our intellectual resources leaving is unacceptable,” Lolo said.
“The territory’s only known natural resources is our intellectual assets inherent in our educated children,” he said. “Raising compensation is our attempt to secure these intellectual resources that are vital to the development of our territory.”
Changing the entry level pay scale for returning college graduates has been an issue raised over the years, especially from our own local students, who end up staying on the mainland upon graduation due to the low pay scale in the territory.
The administration Executive Policy Declaration, which was released yesterday by the governor’s office, comes after Monday’s meeting attended by the governor, lieutenant governor and cabinet directors with colleges graduates whose education was paid for by ASG.
DHR director Sonny Thompson said at the time there would be an Executive Policy Order issued shortly articulating an effort to adjust salaries and compensation for those employees with degrees who are already in the government workforce.
It was also announced that those with BA and MA degrees making less than $22,000 annually will get a pay hike: a BA degree holder will start at $23,000 and a MA degree holder at $27,000.
At the meeting the governor acknowledged $23,000 is not much, however the current Human Resources (HR) pay scale for those with Bachelor’s degrees has them starting at $17,000. Lolo said when he started working for ASG he began at $5,800 annually, while some of the directors when they started earned only $3,000 per annum. (See Samoa News edition on Jan. 7 for more details).
Of interest, the government has not detailed how it is paying for this new pay scale, especially in light of the administration’s insistence that all departments and agencies must not overspend their fiscal year budgets and its strict adherence to its cost cutting measures in light of federal cutbacks.
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