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Overtime issue an old, old problem, says Gov. Lolo

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga says the overtime issue is a problem inherited by his administration from the previous one and urged directors to make sure overtime is controlled, and suggested hiring more people instead of incurring overtime.

Speaking at Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, the governor first pointed out that there are still some issues with departments — such as Homeland Security and Health — in getting federal grant reimbursements.

“Please make sure reimbursement is improved as it becomes an issue in some departments,” he told directors. “And we are very serious with requiring you to bring those monies down.” He added, “These departments with outstanding reimbursements need to help Treasury.”

He also told directors that “our financial status, our cash flow is always a problem as long as we carry a deficit” from the previous years.

“Cash flow will always be a problem with this government,” he said, adding that “we’re seeing some light at the end of the tunnel” — but didn’t elaborate further. However, he urged directors to be on top of their operations because “once you lose track of what you’re doing, that’s when you have problems.”

On the issue of overtime, Lolo said it’s “always a problem with us because we inherited it, over a $1 million of overtime from previous [administration].” He recalled that from day one of the administration, “We were forced to pay overtime”. (ASG was forced to pay the outstanding overtime based on a federal court ruling.)

“So we still carry over the impact of overtime from previous years. Your duty as director and as a leader of your department, is to make sure that we don’t run into the same problem,” Lolo told cabinet directors. “If you lose control of overtime, you’re not on top of what you’re doing.”

Additionally, on “overtime we always recommend that if you have more work, get some more people to work. That’s why we don’t encourage overtime, but we encourage jobs for other people.”

Lolo said the government has been questioned many times over the hiring of new people, “but the fact of the matter is, jobs are what our people need. So instead of paying people overtime, hire somebody else. Someone needs a job.”

“So that’s why I don’t believe — when people say you need to control [hiring] — sure we have to control it,” the governor said. “But that is what government is for — to exist to make sure to provide jobs for our people.”

“But do it in the right way,” the governor said, but didn’t elaborate further on what he considered the “right way”.

Meanwhile, Budget and Planning Office Director Catherine Aigamaua Saelua requested directors to reconcile all their financial records, as well as any outstanding invoices, for the current fiscal year 2016. It closes at the end of this month and they should be prepared for the new fiscal year 2017.

The cut-off date for all departments to submit to the Budget Office invoices to be paid in FY 2016 was Aug. 31st.

The Lolo Administration’s goal is to close FY 2016 in the black and this is something the government needs to maintain in order to keep a good rating for its American Samoa Economic Development Authority issued bonds.

However, Samoa News understands many vendors in the private sector have complained about their invoices not making it into ASG’s payable system and having to constantly re-submit invoices and ‘walk’ them through for payment, if it even happens.