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Fed sequester shaves $8MIL from ASG 2014 budget

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has revealed that federal sequestration is impacting the budget of American Samoa Government to the tune of about $8 million for the new fiscal year 2014, and the details will be submitted to the Fono on a computer disc.


Lolo shared this information with directors during last week’s cabinet meeting, saying that there will be changes made to the way the final budget books are sent to the Fono for review, because it's costly to print budget books. 


In past years, the sitting administration would submit two budget books, with one being  much thicker, covering in detail specific agencies, departments, and offices, as well as special programs.


The second book — a bit smaller in size — was for the Enterprise Fund, which includes the semi autonomous agencies (i.e. LBJ Medical Center), and revenue making divisions such as the airport division of Port Administration, Industrial Park, Road Maintenance, Sports Complex and the Territorial Office of Fiscal Reform — comprising the Office of Petroleum Management and the American Samoa Petroleum Cooperative, which oversees the Utulei Tank Farm.


Lolo told directors that it costs between $37,000 and $40,000 to print the “big [budget] books that “faipule just throw around — they don’t use them”. He said this year’s budget submission to the Fono will be done using “modern technology” with the entire budget details on a computer disc so “we can cut down on the cost”.


According to the governor, the only submission that will be in hard copy is the FY 2014 budget summary—which includes the cover letter— but “the details will be on the disc and they (the Fono) can print it out” if they want.


He also says that there are “some drastic reductions” in final FY 2014 budget “due to federal grants and sequestration that has been impacting our budget, that is costing us about $8 million in reduction in terms of federal grants” and some of the Enterprise Fund, which is faced with “major reduction” due to grants.


“But as far as other activities [in FY 2014], we’re pushing our budget  to the limit to make sure that this budget will give hope to our business community, with the hope of more money in our economy,” said the governor, adding there is an increase of about $20 million in the FY 2014 budget to help the business community.


The final budget was to have been completed by Monday this week and there was no new information yesterday as to when the budget will be submitted to the Fono.