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Direct deposit for ASG payroll checks hits ‘time’ snag

The delay in payroll Direct Deposit for employees of the American Samoa Government over the weekend has raised concerns over the move by the Treasurer to have all ASG employees on the direct deposit system. Those who utilize direct deposits usually have their funds in their accounts  by Saturday, which is two days before the standard payday; yet this past weekend, the direct deposit was not accessible by employees until Sunday and this was confirmed by Treasurer Dr. Falema’o Phil Pili.


Samoa News received numerous complaints about the move to relinquish paper checks for the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the government, and the fact that all employees will be required to have a bank account for direct deposit as Zions Bank fully takes over the processing of ASG’s payroll. 


One woman told Samoa News the Treasury transferring funds into bank accounts is not reliable and she would rather have her paycheck on Monday than depend on the Direct deposit which sometimes does not make it on time, she said.


In a statement released early Sunday morning, the Treasurer admitted it was the delay of Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) files to the banking institutions which caused the delay of direct deposits appearing in bank accounts of ASG employees.


However, he also emphasized that once every employee is on the direct deposit, it will be posted on the Monday of standard pay day. According to the statement, the Treasurer extended his appreciation to the media, Bank of Hawaii and the employees for their assistance, patience and understanding.


“As reported earlier, the delayed submission of the Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) files to the banking institutes would not have guaranteed an early deposit to reflect on your respective accounts as usual or on the Saturday before the standard payday.


“As confirmed today (Sunday), most BoH account holders were able to access their payroll funds; we thank the BoH officials for their efforts to facilitate this service to our people, even though our files were delayed.


“As mentioned in the prior notification, all other banking institutes’ direct deposits will be posted in your accounts on Monday, February 10, 2014. Payroll check distribution will also occur on Monday, February 10, 2014 as regularly scheduled,” Falema’o said. He further apologized for any inconvenience this may have caused.


Last week, the Treasurer announced the move to have every government employee on direct deposit does not include the semi-autonomous authorities and he is looking at later next month for the mandatory direct deposit policy to take effect.


Employees without direct deposit are being urged to set up accounts as soon as possible.  


Last year, ASG and Zions Bank — which does not plan to open a branch in the territory — signed an agreement for the Utah based financial institution to officially take over from Bank of Hawai’i the processing of the government’s payroll system, which covers the executive branch, the Fono and the Judicial branch. 


ASG had moved to change its payroll processing vendor after BoH initially announced in late 2012 it was closing down operations in the territory. However, the bank, after pleas from Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga, has since delayed indefinitely its departure. Zions Bank officially took over the payroll task on Oct. 1 last year, and has been going through a testing phase for handling the payroll system with ASG Treasury.