Community News Briefs

compiled by Samoa News staff

DBAS TO REDUCE MORTGAGE INTEREST RATE NEXT MONTH

At a recent cabinet meeting, Development Bank of American Samoa president Ruth Matagi-Fa’atili announced that the DBAS board of directors has approved a proposal from the bank’s staff and management to lower the interest rates on mortgage loans.

She said the interest rate would decrease to 7% effective Jan. 1, 2018, adding that this “is another chance for people with loans at DBAS to refinance loans for reasonable terms and an affordable payment amount.”

She also said bank staff is working on another proposal, for submission probably early next year, for the board to again look at reducing interest rates for business owners, and that such a reduction would lessen the financial burden on the community “as we are faced with some difficult times” — referring to the economy.

Matagi-Fa’atili further shared with cabinet directors that there is available at DBAS a line of credit for those who are successful in bids for government projects. Additionally, there is still a chance for loans for home improvements and also for business owners.

LHS GREEN CLUB HOSTS TREE PLANTING EVENT NEXT WEEK

A Co2 Emission Tree Planting Initiative is Leone High School's Green Club eco-green project for the month of December.

LHS instructor Tautasi Falanai Jr. told Samoa News the project is part of the climate change initiative currently fazing the Pacific region, and the closing of the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) Summit in Berlin.

"In standing in solidarity with Pacific Climate Change Warriors like those of 350Pacific and Climate Change Warriors, the LHS Green Club takes charge of this project in their pledge in the movement to end the age of fossil fuel," Falanai Jr. explained.

"The project itself focuses on offsetting the school community's carbon foot print and emission," he continued.

The initiative is a three -prong project, which includes (1) Hibiscus Flower Gardening Patch; (2) Massive Tree Planting; and (3) Rain Garden Installation.

Falanai Jr. said all phases of the project will be completed on the scheduled date, with assistance and support from government agencies including the Coral Reef Advisory Group (CRAG), the ASCC's Community and Natural Resources, the American Samoa Power Authority, the American Samoa Environmental Agency, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Everyone is invited "to take charge" and lend their support in completing the project on December 13, 2017 from 3pm-6pm at Leone High School

More information can be obtained by contacting Tautasi Falanai Jr. at 252-0195/770-1023

AMATA HIGHLIGHTS EFFORTS TO UPDATE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT

Washington, D.C. – Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017 - Congresswoman Aumua Amata highlighted Natural Resources Committee efforts to lay groundwork for updating the U.S. Department of Interior and its services for the 21st century.

“American Samoa and the other insular areas need to be able to rely on efficiency from the Interior Department, since their decisions and activities so often apply to the territories,” said Aumua Amata. “I look forward to continuing this process in the new year to include a focus on the aspects of the Interior Department that apply directly to insular areas.”

The hearing, titled “Transforming the Department of the Interior for the 21st Century,” examined the Department’s goals and policy ideas, including reorganization and possible relocation of bureaus closer to the people they serve. The Interior Department is responsible for an immense 400 million acres of federal land, but in recent years has added missions and experienced maintenance backlogs at national parks.

“Like any major government entity, the Interior Department will benefit from efforts to streamline and update procedures, and the goal must be to provide the best possible services to the even most geographically distant places,” continued Congresswoman Amata. “I appreciate the testimony of these witnesses on the current status of their effort, and also the Trump Administration’s genuine interest in restructuring federal agencies to reduce waste and make them more effective.”

(Source: Congresswoman Aumua Amata's Office, Washington D.C.)

IMPORT TARO BAN FROM SAMOA DISCUSSED AT TWO SAMOA MEETING

American Samoa’s temporary ban on the importation of taro from Samoa was one of the many issues discussed at the Nov. 30th Two Samoa Talks held in Apia on Nov. 30th.

Prior to the 10th Executive Session of the meeting, agriculture officials from both sides met for further discussions on the suspension of taro import from Samoa and that had been in place since early June this year, after the ASG Department of Agriculture received information regarding an unknown virus outbreak affecting taro crops on the islands of Upolu and Savai’i.

The suspension has created a rift between agriculture authorities of the two Samoas with American Samoa maintaining its stand on the ban until there is new information from the virus that was sent to Europe for testing.

At the Two Samoa Talks, it was shared that Samoa’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has acknowledged efforts to comply with requirements set by the American Samoa government to lift the taro band. At the same time, ASG-DoA currently awaits written communication from Samoa on the results of its taro virus tests.

American Samoa did note the possibility of lifting the ban in March next year.

Among the conditions set last month by ASG-DoA for import taros from Samoa is that it must come directly from farmers in Samoa and not through a third party.

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