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Lolo eases restriction on importation of older cars

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has amended the government’s ban on the importation of older model vehicles saying that the previous prohibition of vehicles more than 10 years old, is “unduly restrictive”.


Former governor Togiola Tulafono issued in 2007 the first executive order prohibiting the importation of vehicles that were manufactured prior to 1999. Last August, he issued a new order, implementing ASG Climate Change Mitigation Rules, and reinforced the prohibition of cars into American Samoa that are more than 10 years old, with the age of the vehicle determined by the vehicle’s model year and the calendar year.


In his executive order dated Feb. 6, Lolo recognized the “importance of protecting our environment” through the ASG Climate Change Mitigation Rules, however, he called the current rules “unduly restrictive” with respect to the importing of older motor vehicles.


“This has had a negative impact on the lives of our people whose limited resources often prevent them from making the expenditures necessary for compliance with the Rules,” said Lolo.


The new executive order is to “increase from 10 years to 15 years the age of motor vehicles allowed to be imported into American Samoa” and the “age of the vehicle is determined based on the vehicle’s model year and calendar year”.


The order also amends provisions of last year’s order issued by Togiola, dealing with “projects and classic show car waivers”.


Lolo’s order states that a limited temporary waiver may be granted for a vehicle unavailable in the territory, under a showing of specific required need for a particular project, or for a special classic show car exemption.


To qualify for a waiver, the individual is to submit a request — including specific information required — to the governor’s office.


A classic show car, for example, must be 25 years or older, must have been maintained in or restored to a condition which is substantially in conformity with manufacturer’s specifications.


Additionally, owner must provide information on how the vehicle will be stored and maintained in the territory in order to keep the vehicle in classic show car condition.


Classic show cars include automobiles, trucks, motor cycles  and other motor vehicles, and these types of classic cars must pass Office of Motor Vehicle inspection.


Among the criteria to get a wavier for a “project vehicle”, according to the governor, is that the vehicle must be a specialized vehicle or specifically modified to perform a task required for a specific project or job; no vehicle able to perform the same specialized task is located in American Samoa; and owner must conduct emissions tests before importing the vehicle to the territory, with the test results submitted along with the waiver request.


Additionally, the owner must produce to ASG a bond in the amount of $5,000 or an amount equal to the import excise tax on the vehicle, whichever is greater. The bond will be returned when the vehicle is removed from the territory.


In the event the vehicle is not returned to its point of origin within 90 days of project completion date, or ceases to be operable during the course of the project, the bond shall be forfeit, the order states.


According to the order, Customs Division and the Office of Motor Vehicles are charged with implementation and enforcement of this provision through their existing enforcement powers in consultation with the American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA).


Additionally, all other ASG departments and agencies are to fully cooperate in this matter.


ASEPA director Ameko Pato said in a media statement that these changes have been made to alleviate the “inconvenience to the public when proposing to import vehicle(s) into the territory.”


ASEPA advises the public to plan ahead when proposing to import a vehicle to ensure that these amendments are met. For more information call ASEPA at 633-2304.


Samoa News also suggests that local residents or business owners obtain from the Governor’s Office the list of criteria when seeking a waiver for a project or classic car.