Governor holds conference call with his cabinet
Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga will be away for another 90-120 days depending on his medical check ups in Hawai’i. The announcement was made by the governor who was in high spirits when speaking directly to his cabinet members in a conference call yesterday where the directors and agency heads heard directly from the governor — first hand — since he left for meetings last month.
The governor pointed out there remains a need for the physicians to monitor his medication and maybe, after the 90-day period, there will be a change of his medication, which will hopefully allow him to return. The first issue Governor Lolo spoke about is the service to the people, noting their administration’s motto is “People First”.
Lolo stated that Lt Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga is more than capable of holding down the fort of government in his absence. He further told his cabinet members, while he and Lemanu are giving the advice, it’s the Directors who implement the projects at hand. He further thanked Samoa News and the media for informing the public on the status of matters in the government.
PROJECTS UNDERWAY MUST BE CARRIED FORTH
The governor made it clear to his cabinet that the planned projects will not be delayed, despite his absence and urged the directors to be more keen on the projects.
The projects cited by the governor are the new Tafuna Correctional Facility, the play ground in Fagatogo, DOE buildings, the Leone High School gymnasium and other road projects.
Lemanu pointed out to Lolo that a majority of the projects are proceeding well and the Director of Public Works Faleosina Voigt can attest to that.
DOL CITES ASG FOR $2.5MILLION FOR NEG’S UNALLOWABLE COST
The governor also pointed out that the USDOL is seeking from ASG repayment of $2.5million in non allowable costs under the National Emergency Grant (NEG) program.
However, Lolo said, he is seeking more thorough information prior to anything being done on this matter, because this is a substantial amount. He noted that it’s incidents such as these that ASG must be ready for when they strike.
Lolo explained that this was among the issues discussed during their meetings in Washington, and said they also uncovered a lot of funding available to the Department of Homeland Security, which other territories are benefiting from, but not American Samoa.
(In February and March this year, Samoa News reported extensively on the ASDHS performance audit report for FY 2009- 11, by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, which said among other things that American Samoa didn’t aggressively manage and expand the federal State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) grant funds — which could result in the territory losing this funding. For example, it reported, as of Jan. 31, 2013, ASDHS had only obligated and expended $102,000 of the $1.43 million in FY 2009 funding; $102,000 of the $1.46 million in FY 2010; and $0 (zero) of the $1.15 million in FY 2011.)
Governor Lolo informed his directors that the Administration will be calling for a special session next week and the proposed amnesty bill should be ready for launching and legislative approval. The Amnesty program has been extended until March 31, 2014.
The governor thanked Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop and his legal counsel Steve Watson for their efforts in the amnesty program, saying the program is very important and in the long run, beneficial for the territory.
The Governor pointed out that the Inter-Samoa summit, known to many as the “Samoa Talks”, which are scheduled to be held during the first week of May 2014 in Samoa, should still be carried out despite his absence. At the time, it was agreed that the two Samoas would offer continued cooperation with regard to the new undersea fiber optic cable, economic integration, immigration, transportation, joint disaster preparedness, and energy.
Samoa News will report on other issues discussed in later editions.