AIRCRAFT FORCED TO CARRY EXTRA FUEL ON MANU’A FLIGHTS
Because there are no jet fuel tanks in the Manu’a islands, Polynesian Airlines has had to carry extra fuel on flights to both Fitiuta and Ofu airports. Because of the extra fuel, the airline can only take so many passengers and cargo on these flights because of weight requirements for the flight.
The Samoa government owned airline, operating under a federal waiver, flies four times a week to Fitiuta on Ta’u Island and once a week to Ofu.
And during the House committee hearing last week Thursday, Manu’a Rep. Vesi Talalelei Fautanu Jr questioned Office of Petroleum Officer Sione Kava if the government has any plans to set up a jet fuel depot in Manu’a.
“We cannot do anything about Manu’a, until, number one — the government includes Manu’a as part of [ASG] facilities. The facilities we have now is the tank farm at Gataivai, fuel dock and [Tafuna] airport jet fuel tanks,” Kava responded.
He explained that the current ASG contract with Terminal Operation, Pacific Petroleum, only includes these three facilities — all located on Tutuila. “And for many years, I have promoted that [ASG] should also include the Manu’a management and supply system into the contract with the terminal operator,” he said.
By doing so, “the terminal operator will be responsible for the security of supply to “Manu’a, just the same as they are responsible for the security of supply to Tutuila. They will also be the managers of the tank farm, wherever you want to put it, either in Ta’u or Ofu, or both,” he said. “And that will come under the terminal operation fees that we pay out to the terminal operator.”
Additionally, including Manu’a as part of the terminal operator agreement will allow the jet fuel depot in Manu’a to be set up as part of a total process — which includes the US Coast Guard and the US Environmental Protection Agency taking a look at all the facilities, he said.
Asked by Vesi as to who is to present a proposal for a Manu’a jet fuel depot, Kava says it can come from the Fono.
BUDGET PROPOSAL FOR VISITORS BUREAU
According to the FY 2017 budget document, the American Samoa Visitors Bureau is proposing a total budget of $751,500 with $303,000 to personnel costs for six employees. It has the same approved budget amount for FY 2016 but with $295,000 to personnel costs also for six employees.
In the past two years, the Fono had questioned the high salary for the executive director, which is $85,000 under FY 2016 and the proposed salary including annual contract incremental for FY 2017 totals $87,500. Lawmakers are expected to once again question the salary amount when the Fono holds budget hearings soon.
Aside from personnel costs, the second largest expenditure for the agency falls under “All Others” category totaling $219,000. It covers expenditures such as electricity, telephone, membership fees for international organizations (at $28,000); international travel shows and promotions (at $55,000) and sponsorship of local events (at $51,000).
During last year’s budget hearings, several lawmakers also questioned these same expenditures.
MANU’A LAWMAKERS PRAISED SERVICE OF SAMOA GOVT VESSEL
Manu’a lawmakers in the House have publicly voiced their appreciation to the Samoa government owned Samoa Shipping Corporation, for answering the call from the territory to help with ocean transportation service with the MV Fotu-o-Samoa to sail between Tutuila and Manu’a.
Rep. Vesi Talalelei Fautanu Jr. says the MV Fotu-o-Samoa enables his Manu’a constituents to send cargo to the Island group, because the ASG vessel MV Sili is at the shipyard slipway for repairs. With the Samoa vessel, he said, ocean transportation for Manu’a is not interrupted.
Another Manu’a lawmaker, Toeaina Faufano Autele echoed the same statement along with House Vice Speaker Fetu Fetui Jr., who said that ASG would not ignore the needs of Manu’a residents because it has found a solution to make sure there is continued ocean transportation service for Manu’a.
Not mentioned was which government agency or department is chartering the Samoa vessel for Manu’a and for how much.