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Manu’a District #1 returns Galea’i to Senate, along with Saoluaga T. Nua

Current Senator, Galeai M. Tu’ufuli and former House speaker Saoluaga T. Nua have been selected by the traditional county councils of Manu’a District No. 1, to be their two senators when the new Legislature takes the oath of office on Jan. 3 next year.

Traditional leaders and orators of Manu’a District #1 comprising the villages of Fitiuta, Ta’u, Faleasao and also the three counties on Ta’u island, met last Saturday on Ta’u Island to select their next senators.

The District has two seats in the Senate and Galeai holds one while the other is currently held by Sen. Letalu Maui. Galeai previously served in the Senate in the late 1990s and returned to the Senate in January of 2008.

“I am very honored to be selected again to serve my constituents and the people of American Samoa for a second term over the next four years in the Senate,” said Galeai, who pointed out that he is working on an agenda for issues he believes should be raised in the new Legislature.

He did point out one issue dealing with the territory that is “very disturbing” to the local economy and the people of the territory — is Bank of Hawai’i’s plans to shut its doors come March of next year.

“It’s very saddening to hear this news, which is terrible to our economy, that still needs new investments in order to get a boost heading into the new year and beyond,” said Galeai.

“I fault the current administration for this move by the bank. The attitude of the government is all anti business,” said Galeai, who has been a vocal critic of the Togiola Administration. He pointed out, for example, the huge hikes in taxes and business license fees — proposed by the governor — that were defeated by the Senate.

“And I have no doubt in my mind that the case between the government and Marisco Ltd in Honolulu, and later the bank was dragged into it by the government, is the last straw for the bank resulting in their closure here,” said Galeai. (See separate story on latest update on BoH closure).

Nua, a former candidate for lieutenant governor in the 2008 gubernatorial race, said traditional leaders of Manu’a District #1 have given him a chance to serve the people and government of American Samoa and he looks forward to working with Galeai in the Fono over the next four years.

Nua was reluctant to talk about issues that he wants to raise in the Fono. However, he said there are “several issues of importance” and among them “firm and solid transportation, which is not moving forward for the better but has taken a step backward” for the Manu’a Island group.

“With un-interrupted ocean and air transportation, that brings economic development for the island group,” he said in a phone interview from Ta’u. “But not for the Manu’a people, who have been faced with unreliable transport services.”

“I believe there are economic developments available in Manu’a — such as agriculture and fisheries — which can be funded by the federal government, if none are available from the local government,” he also said.

He said Manu’a also has vast unused parcels of land that can be leased by the government to operate huge plantations providing employment. “Such a plantation can grow large quantities of agricultural produce for all of American Samoa instead of depending on imports that are costly,” he said.

“There are a lot of resources available in Manu’a but we need financial assistance,” he said. “The goal is to return to the Manu’a islands, the residents who are now living on Tutuila.”

He also said that Manu’a is a great place to further improve the territory’s tourist industry but all these economic developments in fishery, agriculture and tourism will not work unless something is done to ensure uninterrupted ocean and air transportation.

Nua is hoping that the new administration of governor-elect Lolo Matalasi Moliga, who is a Manu’a native, will take some of these issues into serious consideration. “It will not only benefit Manu’a but Tutuila, Aunu’u and the Swains Island,” he added.

Nua served two terms as House Speaker from 1997 to 2000. He served for more than a decade in the House representing one of the two House seats for District #1.