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ASG ends payroll deductions for government workers

The Treasury Department plans to eliminate at the end of this month a long standing program, which allows ASG employees to pay their bills to local and off-island vendors and creditors through payroll deduction.


A local businessman who has been in the insurance industry for some three decades told Samoa News that he is very disappointed with the ASG plan to terminate this program by the end of Feb.


He says this a very important service that has been in place for many years to make it easy for ASG workers to pay their bills.


 ASG employees would provide to the Treasury Department with the name of their creditor/vendor as well as the amount of money to be deducted every pay period. ASG would then submit that payment, on behalf of the employee, to the creditor or vendor, such as banks, insurance companies, telecommunication and utility providers.


The businessman, who contacted Samoa News last Friday morning, says that of his company’s 8,000 clients, the majority of them are ASG employees and many of the clients have had payroll deductions for around 17 years.


He said he only learned of the termination of the payroll deduction policy, which becomes effective Feb. 28, when he was at ASG to pick up payment for clients whose insurance premiums are paid through payroll deduction.


“What happened to the Lolo administration campaign theme: 'People first!' Shouldn’t people, the ASG employees come first instead of any other issues dealing with the government?” the businessman asked. “When the new administration took the helm of government, it was People First, but I guess that is no longer the case.”


He said ASG employees depend on payroll deductions to pay monthly premiums because of several reasons, such as they don’t have time to get to the office to pay them during working hours, live further away from the town area and its more convenient by payroll deduction.


The businessman said that according to the letter from the Treasury Department, the vendors “are responsible for letting our clients know that there is no longer payroll deduction,” after the end of this month.


He says vendors even pay ASG for this service to ensure that ASG employees’ pay their bills. For his company, he says payroll deduction ensures insurance premium do not lapse causing problems for the employees - who are clients.


Two ASG employees say they also learned of this change last Friday and were very disappointed. “I depend on payroll deductions to make it easy to pay bills,” said one of the employees. “Payroll deductions save time from having to leave the office to stand in line at a vendor to pay bills.”


“This is the reason why I also have direct deposit - to save time,” said the other employee, both of whom declined to have their names used in the story but have worked for ASG some 15 years and have had payroll deduction all these years.


There were calls for the government more than 2 years ago to get out of the business of payroll deductions after many ASG employees complained to lawmakers that ASG didn’t transmit to the banks and other vendors their payroll deductions to pay their debts.


This occurred at a time when the government was faced with financial constraints, causing ASG workers to fall behind on loan payments, insurance premiums and ASPA utility bills.


More details in tomorrow's edition.