Only Lolo or Lemanu can stop the issuance of an ASG paycheck
Concerned that ASG employees, who become “victims of a director’s failure” to manage his or her agency’s finances, resulting in non-issuance of payroll checks, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has laid down a specific policy to ensure that every employee gets a paycheck.
ASG gets paid every two weeks — on Monday — but over the past several months many executive branch employees have complained to the news media about not getting their paychecks, which are already set aside to pay bills and other obligations, such as loans that include those paid to off island vendors.
Employees, who get paid via direct deposit, usually have the money in their bank accounts the weekend before Monday.
The governor, in a Sept. 19th memorandum to Human Resources director Eseneiaso J. Liu, ASG Treasury Uelinitone Tonumaipea, and ASG Budget and Planning Office director Catherine Saelua, outlined the set policies for issuance and non-issuance of payroll checks.
“It is unacceptable for employees to become victims of the director’s failure to effectively manage his/ her agency’s finances, precipitating preclusion from receiving their paychecks,” Lolo wrote. “This is a severe hardship on many of our employees as they live from paycheck to paycheck.”
The governor pointed out that many of the employees have fixed liabilities to pay and delays would only destroy their credit worthiness and subject them to unanticipated interest and penalty payments. “For some, it could mean no food on the table for their respective families,” Lolo noted.
Accordingly, said the governor, the “decision not to issue paychecks to employees rests with me, and the Lieutenant Governor; but our decision is based on reports” from Liu, Tonumaipea and Saelua detailing reasons for the purported action.
“The only legitimate reason for the non-issuance of a paycheck is the disclosure from the Treasurer that there is no money to cover payroll,” the governor wrote.
“Simultaneously, supplemental payroll checks will be issued Monday — or the latest, Tuesday — for all employees who didn’t receive their payroll checks in the normal distribution process,” he explained, adding that names of employees who might not get paid in the scheduled payroll are known when the payroll pre-listing is printed.
According to Lolo, it shouldn’t be difficult to prepare the supplemental payroll to run on Monday, the day of payroll distribution. “These policies will be in effect unless altered by a superseding memorandum,” he concluded.
Lolo raised the issue at last Thursday’s cabinet meeting.
OTHER MONEY ISSUES
Other money-related issues discussed at the cabinet meeting, include closing out fiscal year 2017, which officially ends before 12 midnight on Sept. 30, 2017. The governor informed directors that preparations are underway to close FY 2017 financial records, according to information from the Governor’s Office regarding the meeting.
Lolo recalled that 2017 was a challenging fiscal year because of the negative effect on economic activities in the territory. For example, last December’s closure of Tri Marine International’s Samoa Tuna Processors Inc., cannery laid off some 700 workers; delays in federal grants reimbursements; and a five-month suspension of cigarette shipments to American Samoa.
Lolo urged directors to pay attention to expenditure documents sent to the Budget Office for processing after the cutoff date, and to expect their return for re-issuance in the new fiscal year.
As previously reported by Samoa News, Aug. 18th was the cut off date for purchases for all government agencies for FY 2017, as the Lolo Administration works on ensuring there is no overrun for the current fiscal year.
At last Thursday’s cabinet meeting, Lolo reminded directors that StarKist Samoa will temporarily shut down operations for five weeks and this would put a dent in ASG’s projected revenues. Therefore, he urged directors to practice prudent financial management in light of this potential revenue shortfall.
The shut down, set for Oct. 21st to Nov. 26th, is for upgrades and to install new equipment. The StarKist Samoa plant is expected to re-open Nov. 27th.
The governor informed directors in a letter two weeks ago that the shutdown would result in an estimated 7% loss in local revenues for the government. (See Samoa News Sept. 15th edition for details.)