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Update: ASNOC hopes to garner govt support with full accountability

fili@samoanews.com

An independent financial audit of the American Samoa National Olympic Committee (ASNOC) operations includes an audit of the “Instant Scratch Bingo”, a fund raising program reintroduced and carried out by an off-island contractor, says Victor Langkilde, the ASNOC president. The group sees the government’s approval for the fundraising activity as a move toward government support for ASNOC.
 
Scratch Bingo was initiated a couple of years ago as a fundraiser for ASNOC and although highly successful, it was discontinued. And then early last year it resumed, only to be cut short after the Treasury Department revoked the permit alleging that instant game cards — sold at many stores on island — violated a provision of local laws — namely that the games of chance are to be “occasional”.
 
Responding to Samoa News questions, ASNOC president Victor Langkilde said the instant bingo fund raising program resumed for the third time last October before former Gov. Togiola Tulafono left office “after addressing the application process for proper permit and guidelines allowing the program to continue.”
 
He says ASNOC has been issued a permit to allow for the fundraiser and ASNOC has to apply for a permit periodically. Additionally, ASNOC also pays for its permit to Treasury Department upon approval from the ASG Treasurer.
 
Responding to additional Samoa News questions Langkilde said, “The fundraiser program is currently being audited along with the regular ASNOC operations. The audit should be fully completed by July and ASNOC will be able to provide a financial picture,” adding that Australia-based Pacific First, is the company that provides the supplies and consultancy for this program.
 
He also said that the issue of how much the contractor is paid is also part of the audit, which will provide specific details before “I could comment further on this issue.”
 
He did point out that currently, the new ASNOC Executive Board has recommended revisiting the structure of this program for possible changes, which will be released publicly as well as sending the information to the Lolo Administration.
 
“ASNOC plans to provide Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga and his Administration all relevant information regarding ASNOC once completed,” he pointed out. “The government has to have a good understanding of ASNOC programs in order for ASNOC to receive the government's full support.”
 
He also cited the importance of this fundraising program, saying that it helps ASNOC assist athletes and coaches with training, competition, Pacific Games, Pacific Mini-Games, and the Olympics.
 
“Currently, our government doesn't provide any financial assistance to ASNOC and hasn't for many years” and ASNOC has had to rely in the past on the IOC, the  Oceania National Olympic Committee (ONOC), “and the private sector through donations to make regional and international competition participation possible,” he explained.
 
“What the ASNOC receives from Olympic Solidarity is no where near what is needed in providing the financial assistance for all of our sporting associations with their programs,” Langkilde said, adding that in other countries in the region and in the world, governments subsidize funding towards the NOCs as their support and help with the Olympic Sports Programs.
 
(Langkilde told Samoa News last month that ASNOC currently receives from the IOC an annual subsidy for Administrative Costs at $40,000, which is up from last year’s $30,000. Additionally, the Olympic Solidarity Program fund will provide $85,000, which is up from last year’s $60,000.)
 
“With ASG's support of the [scratch bingo] fundraising program, it is defined as the government's support for ASNOC,” he said and revealed that the sports body hopes to use part of the money for other purposes to benefit the community.
 
For example, ASNOC “hopes to use some of these funds soon to also help” with the local Department of Education/ASHSAA sports program “since the recent announcement of budget cuts with high schools sports in the territory,” he said.
 
Additionally, ASNOC would like to also look at charities such as the Hope House, and also help with the Special Olympics depending on the outlook of the fundraising program.
 
“ASNOC plans to meet with the governor in addressing all the areas in assisting ASNOC and sports in American Samoa,” he said. “ASNOC has also forwarded proposals with facilities development, and partnership programs with ASG regarding other areas such as health, education, and the environment.”
 
Meanwhile, Langkilde and ASNOC Secretary General Erika Radewagen will be attending the Association of National Olympic Committees (NOCs) general assembly set to open June 15 in Lausanne, Switzerland.
 
“The hope of this annual general assembly is to continue to network with other NOCs, and the IOC regarding Olympic Programs,” said Langkilde, who left Thursday night.
 
Some 800 delegates from the 204 NOCs as well as presidents of Olympic International Federations, representatives from the Olympic Games Organizing Committees and others will take part in the general assembly at the Beaulieu Lausanne Congress Center.



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