Fearing backlash, legislators restore road subsidy
The Lolo Administration is providing more than half a million dollars in local subsidy in the new fiscal year 2014 to help with road maintenance, which has been a problem for the government for many years.
As part of the annual budget, the government provides funds under the Road Maintenance Fund account - which is required by law - to upkeep roads in the territory but there has never been sufficient money to help Public Works, charged with overseeing road maintenance.
For the new fiscal year, $590,500 is allocated under the road maintenance account, which is funded by a certain percent of the local fuel tax.
And under the Special Programs budget category, the government as local subsidy for road maintenance provides $600,000.
The Fono last week cut $100,000 from the subsidy and this was part of the nearly $! Million funding they added to their own budget. Early Friday morning lawmakers restored the road maintenance money and Samoa News understands this was because they feared a backlash from voters.
Gov. Lolo Materials Moliga said the deterioration of roads in the territory is attributed to the absence of effective and consistent highway maintenance, and this neglect has cost the government more money in the long run because the problem has been allowed to fester for so long.
He says the government has begun the process of repairing pubic highways and extending their life through ongoing maintenance.
“This fund ensures the continuation of the required road maintenance,” he said and noted that these monies supplement other federal funds that might be available for road repairs. “This fund also sends a message to the Federal Highway Administration that the [territorial] government is serious about taking care of our highway infrastructure.”
American Samoa Government officials have told lawmakers that ASG is responsible for maintaining all roads, funded by federal money and sufficient funds must be make available every year to upkeep roads in the territory.