FY 2017 budget going through approval process

Fono News
fili@samoanews.com

The Senate and House on Monday approved in third and final reading their respective versions of the fiscal year 2017 budget totaling $380.87 million. The two chambers now go through the process of approving each others budget version before sending one version to the governor for approval.

There is only one amendment to the original version of the FY 2017 budget submission and that is the $2 million requested last week by the governor for inclusion in the budget as local matching funds for two airport projects — relocation of jet fuel tanks and improvements to the Tafuna airport — being funded by the US Federal Aviation Administration to the tune of just over $20 million.

The final approval process of the FY 2017 budget is expected completion today in the Senate and in the House tomorrow.

CENTENNIAL BOOK FUNDING QUESTIONED

During Monday’s House session, Rep. Toeaina Faufano Autele says that if he’s re-elected by his Manu’a Representative District #2 constituents and returns next January to the Fono, he plans to question the $200,000 allocation in the FY 2017 budget under Special Program for the American Samoa History Book — Centennial Book.

He says if there are plans to print such a book and sell it to the public, the government should get a share of the proceeds. Another issue raised by Toeaina is the $50,000 allocated for Swains Island transportation, saying that it’s a small amount.

He says that he had so many questions regarding the budget during the Fono Joint Budget Committee hearings but those inquiries were held back out of respect for the House Speaker — who attended many of the budget hearings — as well as the overall Legislature.

He says there were several issues in the government’s final budget that required further clarification for the public.

Regarding the Centennial Book funding, this allocating is to update the original version printed to mark the 100-year relationship between American Samoa and the United States. The updated version is to include updates on the Manu’a islands, acknowledgment of American Samoa’s service in the military including the Fitafita Guard, the current Lolo Administration, and any other current updates, according to the Governor’s Office.

Author and contractor of the Centennial Book is Rob Shaffer and he is gathering information on the updates to the publication, which has been presented by ASG officials to visiting dignitaries and others as gifts.

In the budget description for the Centennial Book, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga said the preservation of American Samoa’s history is important for future generations. And the funding allocation is needed to support the creation of additional updates to the American Samoa Centennial Book.

MANU’A OCEAN TRANSPORTATION QUESTIONS

The House Transportation Committee has scheduled a hearing for tomorrow to get updates from Port Administration officials on the status of the ASG vessel MV Sili, which is currently on the shipyard’s slipway for repairs.

The committee is also expected to question witnesses as to why the Samoa government owned vessel Fotu-o-Samoa II has all of a sudden suspended its sail between Tutuila and Manu’a last week. With the suspension of service, Manu’a lawmakers as well as residents say it has, again, left the island group without any ocean service.

The issue of the Fotu-o-Samoa was also raised Monday in the House by Manu’a Reps. Vesi Talalelei Fautanu Jr., and Toeaina Faufano Autele and that resulted in the hearing being called.

Toeaina added that it was over the weekend that an urgent need arose pertaining to the shipment of supplies for schools in Manu’a but there was no vessel. A local businessman’s vessel heading to Manu’a was able to uplift the supplies destined for teachers along with shipments from other local residents.

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