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Campaign Updates: Registration Deadline, Ret. Fund, Lolo & Lemanu Wave & Rally…

fili@samoanews.com

The gubernatorial team of former lieutenant governor Faoa Aitofele Sunia and Rep. Larry Sanitoa has circulated a letter to its supporters and campaign people responding to a Senate hearing last week regarding the value of the ASG Employees Retirement Fund, while the close of business Thursday this week is the deadline to register candidates for the Nov. 8th general election.

And last Saturday the Manu’a campaign committee for Lolo and Lemanu team held a wave and rally at Suigaula o le Atuvasa at Utulei.

CANDIDATE REGISTRATION DEADLINE

The Election Office yesterday reminds all possible candidates for the election that deadline to submit petition is 4:30p.m on Thursday Sept 1st for those who have already pickup petitions, to turn them in as early as possible.

Additionally, voters who have already registered are asked to pick up their Voter ID at the Election Office in Tafuna. Further, voters can check their status on the Election Office website: www.americansamoaelectionoffice.org/">http://www.americansamoaelectionoffice.org/">www.americansamoaelectionoffice.org

Meanwhile, the Lolo Administration has proposed a $300,000 allocation under Special Programs budget — overseen by the Governor’s Office — to assist the Election Office in defraying costs of the 2016 general election operation and its preparations, including cost of the election outreach program.

RETIREMENT FUND VALUE

Retirement Fund Office executive director Talia Fa’afetai Iaulualo told a Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee early last week that the Fund’s value — as of Aug. 19th — was at $185.5 million.

The Senate hearing followed advertisements and announcements on the radio and in the newspaper by the Faoa and Sanitoa gubernatorial team that appears to claim there are problems with the Fund.

Yesterday morning the Faoa and Sanitoa team sent out a letter to supporters and friends, recalling Talia’s testimony to the Senate that the Fund is doing well and its most current portfolio is valued at $185 million-plus.

“This is probably a true statement, however, it is important to note that the amount of money in the fund is only relevant to the condition of the fund when properly compared to fund income and future obligations,” according to the letter signed by Faoa and Sanitoa.

It also says that a recent report by Retirement Fund consultants “showed considerable concern for the state of the fund and recommended increasing contributions by ASG employees”. Additionally, the report indicated that, without increased income, the fund is at serious risk of failure.

Increasing contribution — by both the employer and employee — was also raised during the Senate hearing, where it was stated that the Fund and the Governor’s Office was working on a proposal for submission to the Fono.

In the letter, it also says that loaning money to ASG increases risk to the fund, given ASG's history of poor fiscal management and non-payment of obligations. “There are many better places for the fund to invest than in a small government like ASG,” the letter says.

“We do not want to make a political issue of this, but it is important that we point out our concerns and give our promise not to abuse the fund,” the gubernatorial team said, referring to its ads which say that the team is committed, to among other things, suspend all borrowing from the Retirement Fund by ASG and encourage Retirement Fund members to form an association and change the law to allow association representation on the Retirement Board.

LOLO N LEMANU RALLY

Supporters, friends and relatives of the incumbent team of Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga and Lt. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga gathered last Saturday, starting in the morning for the “Rally & Wave” sponsored by the Manu’atele committee.

Also invited to attend the campaign event were members of the local international community such as Tonga, Fiji and others, for a day of fun and BBQ. Supporters say a large number of people showed up at the event