Review of companies with tax exemptions one of the mandates of new ASG board
Among the mandates Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has given the reconstituted ASG Tax Exemption Board is to review companies with tax exemptions to determine the purpose of the exemption and the impact of the company’s economic contribution to local economic development, says ASG Treasurer Dr. Falema’o ‘Phil’ M. Pili, chairman of the board, which is set to meet early next month.
The new board was appointed in March this year and the governor had shared with directors during a cabinet meeting last month the need for the board and the government to develop local businesses thereby creating jobs in American Samoa.
Asked what are the mandates the governor gave to the new board, Dr. Falema’o told Samoa News that the mandates include but are not limited to:
• Determining ways to assist current and new businesses to help them flourish without compromising our economic revenues stream;
• Reviewing all companies with current tax exemptions to determine how they are aligning with the purpose of the granted exemption, and how they are of an impact in terms of economic contribution to our economic development; and
• Other areas that we might bridge the development of business with government's direction on business development.
“We will be meeting on June 5 and we will then set the course of our mandate,” said the Treasurer responding to Samoa News questions.
Asked what is the planned work for the new board — for its priorities, he said, “We will review the established policies as set forth by the previous board and move forward to establish new standard operating policies consistent with the statute, review all tax exemptions, and review new applications.”
At last month’s cabinet meeting, the governor said that he had asked Dr. Falema’o and the board to “to sit down and look into exemptions, giving our people, our businesses a chance to grow.”
Asked what actions has the board taken so far to address this issue raised by the governor, he said, “I don't think its an issue, but it is an underpinning mandate, which we as a board will be using to guide our direction.”
As to the pending number of new applications seeking tax exemptions and the number of applicants seeking renewals, the Treasurer said the board has not reached that point of its work, “but do I know we have not receive any new applications nor any renewals.”
He reiterated that the board’s first meeting is scheduled for the 5th of June “to primarily plan out our direction moving forward as a board.” Additionally, he couldn’t release the total number of companies holding tax exemption certificates because “we have not met as a board.”
Over the years, local residents, lawmakers and many in the private sector have wanted to know how many companies have tax exemption certificates and how they were granted the exemptions when other businesses had not been successful in securing this benefit.
With a new administration at the helm of government, many private sector representatives are eager to see if the Lolo Administration will be more transparent on tax exemptions especially since Lolo had campaigned for transparency and accountability during last year’s campaign.
Another strong campaign point for the Lolo team was to work closely with the private sector, in order for them to flourish and the governor has made it clear during his public speeches that he will do so.