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Lolo assigns new task force to review port, airport fees

The Lolo Administration has established a task force to review fees and charges currently in place at the port and airport divisions of the Port Administration.


In a July 15 memo establishing the task force and appointing its members, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga said the group will also seek input from the private sector.


“It has become necessary to revisit the rates charged for port services and facilities since they were established over thirty years ago… on conditions and activities prevalent at that time,” the governor said.


“Increased activities and changed complexion of said activities at port and airport zones compel the need to reassess the adequacy of the prevailing rates for port/airport services and leases,” he said.


According to the governor, the task force’s primary purpose is to review existing rates and fees for port and airport services and facilities and to recommend new rates, if they are warranted, based on criteria established by the task force, “recognizing our priority of aggressively pushing the implementation of our economic development agenda, with the underlying objective of job creation.”


Additionally, the task force is advised that the private sector be fully engaged to ensure that the recommended new rates will not undermine "efforts to advance our economic development goals.”


As time is of the essence, the governor urged the task force to “proceed expeditiously, yet cautiously” to ensure that input from the private sector has been ascertained and all the stakeholders have been given the opportunity to offer contributions, thereby minimizing public and private sector objections when the new rates are run through the rule making process.


According to the memo, task force members are the directors of Commerce and Port Administration, the Chief Procurement Officer, ASG Treasurer and the Governor’s Legal Counsel.


Airport fees and rates include landing fees, while port fees and charges include serving vessels that enter the Port of Pago Pago.


ASG filings with the U.S. Department of Transportation more than two years ago state “American Samoa airports have some of the highest landing fees and highest operating expenses in the Pacific area, when compared to airports of similar size.”


As part of the airport’s standard rates and charges, airlines are charged landing fees assessed at $3.50 per 1000 pounds for the gross landed weight,” the filing states.