Soliai calls for monitoring of money sent off island

Fono News

Sen. Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono has called on the government to be diligent in monitoring locally operated and managed Asian businesses sending money off island, a move, he says is taking money away from the local economy.

The Ituau senator made the call during a Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee hearing last week on an administration bill dealing with businesses and witnesses were ASG Treasurer Uelinitone Tonumaipea and Tax Office assistant manager Vaaimamao Poufa.

Soliai asked the witnesses if there is any way that the government, especially the Tax Office, is able to find how much money is being sent off island via money transfer services, by local Asian businesses. He believes the government is not able to collect tax revenue on this money being sent off island.

Poufa says local law requires money transfer services to file a report with the Tax Office if the transfer amount is $10,000. And the Tax Office uses these reports to conduct reviews on the source of money being send off island, he added.

Local law referred to by Poufa mirrors US Internal Revenue Code, which requires businesses, including sole proprietorships, located in the U.S. territories — including American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and US Virgin Islands — to file Form 8300 with the IRS on cash transactions of $10,000 or more.

During the Senate hearing, Soliai claims that Asian businesses are not providing truthful information to the government on issues including finances and tax filing and the Tax Office should thoroughly review these businesses financial books when it comes to making sure that they pay their fair share of local taxes.

Soliai said everyone wants the government to be financially stable in order to address the needs of the community in areas, such as, health and education, but “it appears that we’re unable to collect all these revenues.”

He also suggested that the government be diligent in collecting taxes in order for ASG to finance its operations. Additionally, the government should fully enforce the collection of ASG land leases on all government property.

MANU’A FAIPULE QUESTIONS STATUS OF TAUSANI AIRLINES

At last Thursday’s House session, Vice Speaker Fetu Fetui Jr., one of the three lawmakers from Manu’a, questioned the status of the new start-up Tausani Airlines, which leased the ASG’s nine-passenger-seater plane for Manu’a flights, two years ago.

Fetui says it has been a long time since the House has heard any new developments on where the airline stands with its operations and when it will fly American Samoa’s domestic flights.

Rep. Su’a Alexander Eli Jennings, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, and is also involved with the new airline, responded that based on the latest information he has received, paperwork is being completed to be sent to the FAA for approval.

Tausani president Filifaatali Michael Fuiava told lawmakers early this year that the company’s application to conduct passenger service for the Manu’a island group has been submitted to the FAA and they are now waiting a decision by the FAA.

Last month, Filifaatali is quoted by Radio New Zealand saying that the aircraft is ready for FAA inspection, but the FAA hasn’t given any indication when a team will come to American Samoa to inspect the aircraft.

However, FAA spokesperson Ian Gregor told Samoa News more than a week ago that Tausani Airlines has not yet indicated to the FAA that the carrier is ready to start the certification process. Gregor said the ”onus is on an applicant to inform the FAA when it is ready to start this process.” (See Samoa News edition Aug. 19 for details)

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