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FY 2015 ASG Budget Call goes out set for May 2

For the first time, must include utility & communications costs
joy@samoanews.com

The American Samoa Government’s budget call letter for fiscal year 2015, slated to begin Oct. 1, 2014 states that each Department and Agency will include their utilities and communications costs for the new fiscal year, and this is the first time this has been required of ASG entities.
 
Samoa News points out ASG’s ASPA bill is in the millions, and Treasurer Falema’o Phil Pili told Samoa News recently that ASG has been paying their bills.
 
The three-page April 15 budget call letter came from Cathy Dora Aigamaua Saelua, director of the Program Planning and Budget with the approval of Acting Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga.
 
The Directors were told their budget submissions for FY 2015 are to be submitted no later than May, 2, 2014 at the close of business. As mentioned in previous cabinet meetings, the budget negotiations at the governor’s officer are scheduled to begin on the week of May 5, 2014.
 
BUDGET CALL
 
According to the letter issued last week, the FY 2014 Budget reflects the vision of the Administration relative to its service priorities, and the attempt to respond positively to the aspirations and expectations of the American Samoa people.
 
“Our fiscal priorities inherent in the preparation of fiscal year 2014 targeted: the stimulation of our economy to forge job creation, improvements towards the quality of education, earmarking sufficient financial resources to reverse the deterioration of our healthcare services, and the aggressive focus on rebuilding our roads along with taking stock and reinvestment in the development of our total infrastructural system,” said Aigamaua-Saelua .
 
The Budget Director further stated through resilience and leadership by the Governor and Lt Governor, together with the collaboration of departments and agencies, they have repaired a major portion of the public highway and addressed the plight of government employees by raising the minimum salary threshold to $10,000.
 
“We have expressed our firm commitment to our children returning with college degrees through the assurance of job opportunities. Proper value recognition of obtaining a college degree has been clearly articulated by the increased salary threshold for Bachelors and Masters degree holders.”
 
Aigamaua-Saelua  further stated that new classrooms are currently being constructed together with upgrades to our recreational and sporting facilities. “We also continue to strengthen our partnership with the private sector in an effort to expand and enhance our local economy.
 
“Finally, other avenues are being explored to secure additional funds for the revitalization of our infrastructural system, along with improvements to the government’s financial position through liquidating outstanding debts and liabilities to a manageable level.”
 
The Budget Director stated this robust performance posture set in Fiscal year 2014 must be maintained through FY 2015. Despite the challenges ASG faces in trying to fund the numerous needs of ASG within the limits of available funds “we must remain committed to a balanced budget.”
 
LOCAL FUNDS
 
The Budget Director says the budgetary threshold to guide FY 2015’s final budget is provided in the FY 2014 approved budget and affirmed by Public Law 33-8. Furthermore, she asked the Directors to adhere to the budget ceilings as earmarked in the FY 2014 final budget and urged the Directors to prepare their budget submissions according to their current organized set-up and functional statements.
 
(In her budget call for FY 2014, Aigamaua-Saelua noted that adherence to the budget ceilings as earmarked in the FY 2013 final budget and supplement were to be used as guidelines. Approved by the Fono and signed into law, the FY 2013 final budget stood at $454.85 million while the FY 2013 supplement stood at $5 million.)
 
“All vacant positions need to be omitted from your budget request for FY 2015. In addition, all annual step increments should be incorporated into the proposed amount despite the current freeze.”
 
Also, the fringe benefits rate on FICA and Workmen’s Comp are 7.65% and 1.05% for both career and contract employees, with an additional 8% identified for retirement of career employees, thereby bringing the overall total to 16.70% for career service and 8.7% for contract employees.
 
The Budget Director says the estimated utilitiy and communications costs must be accounted for and budgeted in their submissions.
 
“Unlike normal practices in the past, you will be held responsible for these unbudgeted costs and therefore need to appropriate accordingly. To meet any other request above the mandated ceiling allotment, you are advised to identify available funding within your submitted budget by reshuffling your cost structures to cover your most critical needs.”
 
FEDERAL GRANTS
 
The Budget Director further asked the directors to “prepare your budget according to the most recently approved federal grant award.”
 
  “Please incorporate a copy of the latest grant award as well as the proposed grant proposal along with your budget submission. All new grant awards must be submitted to detailed formal. All operating grants are to be included in your budget proposal.”
 
ENTERPRISE FUNDS
 
Saelua pointed out to Directors in the Budget Call letter they should prepare their budget request based on generated revenues from the current fiscal year 2014.
 
“You are required to submit a profit and loss statement for your enterprise accounts and the projected revenues must be sufficient to support your operational costs. The standard Profit and Loss statement will be available at our office, and as a reminder, your operating budget should be based on your projected revenues for the current fiscal year.”



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