Fono opens today

Confirmation of appointments of cabinet directors are among the issues the Lolo Administration will submit for Legislative review and consideration when the new 35th Legislature officially opens today where Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga will deliver his State of the Territory Address.

The joint session of the first day will be held at the newly renovated Fono Guest Fale, starting at 10a.m.

House Speaker Savali Talavou Ale will lead the session while Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie will respond, on behalf of the Fono, to the governor’s address.

In accordance with the constitution, the sitting governor delivers the State of the Territory Address on the second Monday of January every year. Issues traditionally covered in the address include the current economic condition, accomplishments of the executive branch in the previous year and plans for the New Year as well as proposed legislation for Fono consideration.

Status of the economy which has faced serious challenges in 2016, especially in the cannery and fishing industries, and the ASG’s financial status heading into the new year, are two issues that lawmakers and the community are eager to hear from the Lolo Administration, which has started its second four-year term in office.

Perhaps the biggest blow to the local economy, last year, was the reduction of working days for StarKist Samoa and then last month the indefinite closure of Samoa Tuna Processors Inc., putting nearly 700 people out of work, according to industry officials and political observers.

However, the administration is hoping that AVM Engineering, the Philippines based company setting up a multi food processing facility at the Tafuna Industrial Park, will be able to at least boost the local economy in 2017 as a new business, supplying new jobs.

There has been no official response from the Governor’s Office on any specific proposed legislation the administration plans to submit to the Fono. The governor had hinted during his Inauguration address on Jan. 3 that he will be asking the Fono’s support on a proposal to address the local budget process — but he didn’t provide additional details.

During a cabinet meeting early last month, the governor said he was looking at submitting a supplemental appropriation for fiscal year 2017 to the Fono, but provided no other details.

Also during the same cabinet meeting, American Samoa Community College President Rosevonne Makaiwi-Pato noted that the college was looking at submitting three proposals to the governor’s office for review to be sent to the Fono to raise revenues for ASCC, which has already moved to implement cost containment measures.

What is expected to take up a lot of the Fono’s time for the First Regular Session of the 35th Legislature is confirmation hearings for cabinet directors.

As of last Friday afternoon, the governor has appointed 11 acting directors, who are subject to Fono confirmation. (See Samoa News editions Jan. 3, Jan. 6 and today.)

The governor’s re-appointment of Mauga Tasi Asuega as Secretary of Samoan Affairs is not subject to Fono confirmation, as in accordance with the local Constitution, the Secretary of Samoan Affairs serves at the pleasure of the sitting governor.

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