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Axing overtime helps Port offset free Manu'a cargo

Port Administration is looking at recouping within the department the loss in revenue it faces under the new policy implemented by Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga, as all goods and other items for individuals shipped to Manu’a are now free of charge.


The new policy was carried out during last week Monday’s sail of the MV Sili for the Manu’a Island group, with the Governor also visiting Manu'a to reinforce his commitment to the development of the island group so that residents don’t feel second class in their own country.


Responding to Samoa News questions as to how much revenue the Port stands to lose on this new policy, Port Administration director Dr. Claire Poumele said the “lost revenue is estimated to be  approximately $100,000.”


Asked how Port Administration is going to recoup the lost revenue, Poumele first pointed out that the department was spending approximately $140,000 on an annual basis on overtime. Since Jan. 4 this year, ASG  has drastically decreased the overtime hours that are allowed in a department.


“Almost 90% of the funds that were used for overtime were reimbursable from the services provided to vessels that visited our Port,” she said yesterday. “These funds will now be used to offset the cost to operate the MV Sili.”


Asked about the impact of this new policy on the current FY 2013 budget for the Port, the director said “we plan to redirect overtime funds to cover the cost of operation, [and] we do not plan to increase our budget request for this purpose.”


However, there will be an increase of Port Administration projection in the 2013-2014 Budget for other activities e.g. maintenance/service of the boats, she said.


Poumele also said that the cost to charter the MV Sili for a roundtrip to Manu'a is $14,000 and a “review of our generated revenue here at the Seaport reflects $1.27 million above the appropriated budget of $2,040,000.”


She went on to explain that the intent of the policy implemented by the governor, “is to stimulate economic development in Manua, lower the cost of goods sold in the stores, improve ground transportation and generate more of an interest for residents to return to Manu'a.”


She continued, “The benefits of this policy outweigh the loss of $100,000 in revenue. The loss to the Port is that a handful of employees will no longer benefit from the overtime allowance which has been a practice for many years, and it will take a minimum of six months to witness the impact of this policy.”


She added, “We have established Standard Procedures to guide the operation of transporting the free cargo. We understand the need to be fair and offer good cargo services.”


While shipping for residents are free of charge, government entities, such as ASPA are still to be charged, as well as passengers traveling on the MV Sili.


In the meantime, Samoa News understands the private sector has been complaining about the amount of time it’s taking to ‘check’ a container, before goods can be released for sale. Since the overtime restrictions have been implemented, customs agents can no longer work beyond certain hours, and companies must simply wait until its their turn.