Lolo: ASG continues to forge creation of new jobs
While local economic conditions were severely impacted by the world global economic crisis which began in 2008, Gov. Lolo M. Moliga says there were some improvements — with close to 700 new jobs last year in the territory and the future looks positive when the second cannery opens its operations.
Speaking yesterday at the Fono’s opening, Lolo reminded those present that the territory’s economy was further impacted by the 2009 tsunami and the closure of COS Samoa Packing, resulting in the loss of some 5,000 jobs.
“While this bleak economic forecast could easily weaken our spirit, it should strengthen our resolve to devote our attention to establishing economic development activities which are within our grasp,” he said.
The governor went on to say ASG moved to create economic opportunities with the help of federal funds as well as local revenues, all with the goal to boost the territory’s economy thereby creating new jobs.
Since taking over in January last year, the governor said his administration promised to aggressively promote the establishment of new jobs both in the public and private sector. “We have managed to create 623 new jobs in the private sector and in government,” he declared, adding the local economy cannot grow if people don’t have money to spend.
Lolo didn’t provide a breakdown on the number of jobs created in government versus the private sector.
He did point out the government will continue to forge the creation of new jobs, providing assistance and support to Tri Marine International to accelerate the establishment of its Samoa Tuna Processing cannery, creating up to 1,000 jobs. (Tri Marine told Samoa News they are looking at next year for the new cannery to be operational).
Lolo said equal effort will be given to StarKist Samoa to facilitate the implementation of its tuna fish pouch operation, which will translate to 1,000 jobs.
According to the governor, additional jobs will be generated through the American Samoa Shipyard Services Authority upon completion of the refurbishment of the 1,000 ton slipway at the Satala shipyard.
“The government will continue to outsource functions which are traditionally performed by government to nurture the creation of new jobs,” he said. “Aggressive development efforts in agriculture, fisheries and tourism will cause new jobs to be created.”
Another economic development issue shared by the governor is the work of the new American Samoa Power Authority board of directors and its executive director Utu Abe Malae to bring down the cost of utilities — a promise made by the administration when it took the helm of government in January last year.
The governor told lawmakers that since Utu and the new ASPA board have taken office, electricity has been reduced by an average of 4.0 cents per kilowatt hour over the last 11 months. Further, fees for some of the services provided by ASPA have been reduced by as much a s 50%.
He also said ASPA has successfully terminated its fuel supplier and distribution function and this action will effectively recapture a “minimum of $5 million in lost excise tax revenues” to ASG, along with increasing corporate taxes to be paid by the two fuel suppliers supplying ASPA, the canneries, service stations and fishing vessels.
“The ASPA decision also ends the threat of a monopoly, which the previous ASPA board and management had created,” he said. “There are now two legitimate fuel supply companies competing in the territory, which will hopefully keep fuel prices in check.”
Samoa News will report later in the week on other economic development issues cited by the governor.