LBJ BOARD OF DIRECTORS HAS NEW CONFIRMED MEMBER
LBJ Medical Center board of directors now has a full membership of five, after the Senate on Wednesday unanimously confirmed the governor’s nomination of Etenauga Lutu, to replace Leiataua Leuga Turner, whose nomination was rejected recently by the Senate.
Prior to the Senate vote, Mrs. Lutu appeared earlier in the day before the Senate Health/LBJ Committee for her confirmation hearing which lasted for about ten minutes. Senators who spoke during the hearing all agreed that Mrs. Lutu is well qualified for the post.
Sen. Tuiasina S. Esera added this is one of the governor’s best nominations to a government board, while Sen. Saole Mila called on the nominee to serve the community honestly.
In her opening remarks, Mrs. Lutu said she is thankful to the governor for the appointment to serve on the board of LBJ, where she started working in 1975 upon her return to the territory.
Mrs. Lutu says she has worked throughout the years in various areas of the nursing division and was there when the hospital became an authority, or semi autonomous entity of government to comply with federal regulations.
Although she retired in 2006, Mrs. Lutu returned to work due to the nursing shortage at the hospital.
Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga said Mrs. Lutu, who was director of nursing at the LBJ Medical Center for many years until her retirement, has extensive experience in health care administration as well as public administration, which makes her a valuable board member.
LBJ board members are only required to be confirmed by the Senate.
FUNDING ALLOCATED FOR TREASURY PROJECT DEVELOPMENTS
Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has included a $1 million appropriation in the fiscal year 2014 budget for Treasury Project Developments, which is listed under the Special Programs budget category.
The governor says a major factor contributing to the ‘high risk’ status of government is the ineffectiveness of existing financial computer systems to capture and track transactions with a clear audit trail, thus providing transparency in financial matters.
He says the $1 million allocation is dedicated to upgrading the government’s IFAS financial systems, along with the incorporation and integration of new modules to facilitate comprehensive collection and tracking of transactions which will in turn produce management information allowing ASG to “efficiently manage our financial resources.”
“More importantly, the system will capture all of the data and supporting information, setting up a clear and transparent audit pathway for auditors,” Lolo said, adding that Treasury has been tasked to establish a ‘paperless’ management information system for ASG to reduce cost and to enhance operating efficiencies for the entire government.
Lolo says this paperless system will “truncate” government processes and improve the speed and quality at which service is rendered to the people and private sector of American Samoa.
Yesterday, $100,000 was cut from the Treasury Department project development funds for the FY 2014 budget by the Joint Budget Committee, co-chaired by Sen. Laolagi F.S. Vaeao — the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee chairman — and Rep. Timusa Tini Lam Yuen, the House Budget and Appropriations Committee chairman.
The cut was part of cuts made, totalling $985,000, which was then added to the Fono’s original budget of $6.7 million. The Fono’s proposed final FY 2014 budget stands at more than $7.5 million.
SENATE APPROVES ITS VERSON OF CHILD ABUSE BILL
In a unanimous vote, the Senate approved in final reading on Wednesday the administration bill which further criminalizes the act of child abuse.
The Senate bill was introduced yesterday in the House, where lawmakers have an identical version of the bill pending in committee for amendments to be made soon.
Senate approval of the bill came after senators were pleased with what they called a clear explanation from Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop on Tuesday. Jessop told the senators that the measure does not take away a parent's right to discipline their children, as long as such discipline doesn't turn into the abuse of a child.
Two weeks ago, when the Senate reviewed the measure, some senators expressed concern that the law would take away a parent’s right to discipline.
Jessop said the the bill targets cases — such as those that have reached the Attorney General’s office — where parents have abused their children by doing such things as tying their children up and beating them with a 2x4 piece of lumber.
The bill also includes a provision that establishes by law the crime of child neglect. Jessop said that there are many of these neglect cases occurring in the territory.