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Fono News



During last Friday’s fiscal year 2014 budget hearing for the Procurement Office, Rep. Atualevao Gafatasi Afalava questioned why this ASG entity has hired an assistant attorney general.


Procurement Office’s budget of $1.35 million — compared to $1.29 million in FY 2013 — includes an assistant attorney general with an annual salary of $50,000. Afalava asked if the Procurement Office is now employing their own legal counsel and why.


Chief Procurement Officer Tiotalaga John Kruse explained that an agreement with the AG’s Office calls for co-sharing expenses for this assistant AG to assist in legal matters for Procurement, especially with the manual of policies and procedures. He said the attorney will start working in FY 2014 to prepare this important manual. (It was not clear if co-sharing meant the attorney will be paid a salary from both the Procurement Office and the AG’s Office.)




The governor’s nomination of Mrs. Etenauga Lutu to the LBJ Board was introduced last Friday in the Senate and assigned to the Senate Health/LBJ Committee for review. Committee vice chair Sen. Saole Mila has set a confirmation hearing for this Wednesday. LBJ board nominees require only Senate confirmation.


Mrs. Lutu, who was director of nursing at the LBJ Medical Center for many years until her retirement, has extensive health care administration and public administration experience which makes her a valuable board member, the governor said in his nomination letter to the Fono leaders.


Moreover, she is “intricately familiar with operations” of LBJ, “hence her insights will be invaluable relating to the challenges currently being faced by the board and the hospital. She is fully indoctrinated with the challenges faced by the nursing core and I am confident that her many years of experience will assist the board charter a strategic plan dedicated to mitigating long standing impediments precluding the delivery of quality healthcare services to the people of American Samoa,” Lolo said.




American Samoa Visitors Bureau board chairman Roy J.D. Hall Jr. told the Fono joint budget hearings that terms in office for the initial board have expired and he has submitted names to the governor to consider for new terms.


The 2008 law establishing the ASVB, calls for a seven member board appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Fono. Membership of the board, includes one each from the Department of Commerce, Office of Samoan Affairs, the local Chamber of Commerce, the National Park of American Samoa, the cruise ship industry, and two from the American Samoa Visitors Association (ASVA).


The law further states that the ASVA nominees possess at least five years experience in the airline, travel agency, or hotel or lodging industries. The individuals selected under this subsection cannot be from the same industry, and not more than one may be selected from individuals residing outside of American Samoa.


The board selects its chairman as well as employing the ASVB’s chief executive office.




House Vice Speaker Talia Fa’afetai Iaulualo and Rep. Talaimatai Elisara Su'a are sponsoring a bill that, if enacted into law, will reopen the matai title registration for a period of six months next year.


Current statute states that every matai in American Samoa must, prior to Jan. 1, 1969, register his title and designated name with the Territorial Registrar and any matai title not registered by Jan. 1, 1969 may not be registered.


But under the amendment proposed in the House bill, which was introduced in the House during Saturday’s session, the registration period will be reopened.


“...  matai in American Samoa must register his title and designated name with the Territorial Registrar between Jan. 1, 2014 and June 30, 2014, after which date no titles may be registered,” the amendment states. “Titles registered prior to Jan. 1, 1969 need not be re-registered.”


Similar amendments have been proposed in the past, including one introduced in 2011, but none ever made it out of the committee and therefore were automatically defeated when a legislative session ended without action.


The push to reopen registration was based on the fact that several matai titles currently vacant or being used today were not registered by the January 1969 deadline. More than six years ago, some traditional leaders were against such amendment, arguing before the Fono that re-opening the registration period will allow new chiefly titles that were never part of a family clan to be registered.


(For clarity, the amendment is specifically focused on matai titles that have never been legally registered, not on matai titles already legally registered, nor the holders of these titles. It also does not address ‘nofo lua’ or allowing two or more persons to register for the same title.)




Rep. Va’amua Henry Sesepasara has suggested to Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources director Dr. Ruth Matagi-Tofiga to use some of the department’s $270,000 in local funds to help local fishermen.


Va’amua, who made the request at Thursday’s DMWR budget hearing, says there are several expenses associated with fishing in which the local fleet needs financial assistance such as meeting U.S. Coast Guard regulations.


He said he has raised this issue many times, both in the Fono and directly in meetings with the director.


Matagi-Tofiga pointed to a recent case where there was help through a DMWR federal partner to assist local fishermen. She added there are federal and regional assistance available that can be requested.


During the hearing, it was noted that $40,000 in travel budget items comes from local revenues, but the director explained that this is not correct, saying all DMWR travel is allocated through federal grants.


Va’amua requested this money be used to help local fishermen and Sen. Nua Saoluaga made the same request for alia fishing boat owners in Manu’a.