Local biz advocacy group has Eni’s full support
Congressman Faleomavaega Eni has voiced his full support for a coalition of businesses who want to serve as a supporting voice in Washington, DC to deal with federal policies relating to American Samoa’s economy.
Leading the formation of the advocacy group is StarKist Co, Tri Marine International, Polynesia Line and Hamburg Süd along with others who directly or indirectly represent the largest portion of private sector employment in the territory, according to a joint news release last month by the four companies.
“I welcome that these major corporations... are reaching out to other territorial businesses and organizations to be a part of a new coalition in support of stronger economic development policies for American Samoa,” said Faleomavaega last Friday in a news release.
“While our local Chamber of Commerce remains the leadership in the business community, this coalition will add greater emphasis on how important the Chamber of Commerce is when discussing economic development in the Territory,” he said.
Samoa News had asked the Congressman last month for comment on the new business coalition.
The Chamber of Commerce board said in a statement last month that it was unaware of the proposal to form this advocacy coalition but added that the more support for the private sector in trying to develop the economy, the better.
Faleomavaega reiterated what he has continuously noted when speaking of the territory’s economy — that American Samoa must seek a more diversified economic base in order to ensure a prosperous future. “In this crucial time in our development, it is vital that our major businesses on island work together with federal leaders and agencies to weigh in on legislative decisions impacting our local economy and business climate,” he said.
He said that for years, one of the territory’s major challenges has been creating incentives for business. “To this end, I also look forward to a business climate in which local policies standardize requirements for outside businesses wanting to invest in American Samoa.”
Faleomavaega then expressed his disappointment in the lack of involvement on the part of local Asian business owners in the new business coalition and in the the local Chamber of Commerce.
“Given that our Korean- Chinese- and Filipino- owned businesses alone make up around 80% of our retail businesses, it is critically important that they also take an interest in the improvement of our overall business climate and economic welfare of our Territory,” the congressman said.
“Nevertheless, the coalition will represent a good portion of our business community as they continue to reach out to work closely with ASG and my office,” he said.
Faleomavaega says he looks forward to working with the coalition as well as with Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga and local leaders towards building a more diversified economic base and making sure that federal policies support economic growth and development in the Territory.
There has been no reaction from the Governor’s Office to the establishment of the new business coalition, whose goals, among other things, will raise awareness of the unique and significant economic challenges faced by American Samoa, and the importance of the territory to the United States.
Additionally, the coalition will provide experience-based, private sector input into the policy-making process; serve as a voice to U.S. Congress in advancement of sound policy proposals and in protection of taxpayer resources; and advance federal legislation to create jobs and to achieve viable, long-term economic growth and independence for the American Samoa economy.
In the meantime, Gov. Lolo M. Moliga has established a new task force to develop a Territorial Economic Development Implementation Plan (TEDIP) through an executive order issued last week.
This task force comprises six members from the private sector, five members from the Executive Branch of government, two members designated by the Senate and House of Representatives and one member designated by Congressman Eni Faleomavaega’s office with the primary mission to prepare the plan.
Its purpose, according to the Executive Order, is to canvas existing and reasonably current studies and economic development plans, from which individually identified undertakings and projects can be lifted, from which an initiative can be formed for the basis of the TEDIP.
Samoa News reporter Fili Sagapolutele contributed to this report.