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Parting advice from Chamber of Commerce chairman

Departing Chamber of Commerce chairman David Robinson says the government needs to address certain policies, which could help boost new investment, thereby creating new jobs — aside from the minimum wage issue and the poor local economy,


Speaking at the conclusion of last Wednesday’s Chamber meeting with U.S. Government Accountability Office officials, Robinson said there are some issues that need to be addressed by the government, and minimum wage is just one of them. He pointed out that one of the major influences in the poor shape of the local economy is that there are no new investments into the territory, and no new jobs being created.


“Until we get a broadening of our economic base, it’s going to be very, very difficult for any advancement in the economy to take place,” he told Chamber members. “And the longer we leave it, the worse it becomes.”


He also pointed out that there are “some very, very serious impediments to economic investment” in American Samoa for both U.S. and non-U.S. companies.


“We have to look at such areas as tax reform, cost of utilities, cost of transportation, land availability,” he said. “These are also policy reform matters that the government needs to attend to.”


Congressman Faleomavaega Eni — with the support of Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga and other local officials — is pushing the U.S. Congress to halt the next minimum wage hike set to become effective Sept. 30, 2015.


“If it so happens.... that we get another minimum wage increase, and the economy hasn’t improved significantly between now and then, it’s going to be even worse and worse and worse for small and medium size businesses to continue on,” he told the Chamber meeting, adding that his views on the local economy have been made public before. 


Robinson told Samoa News two weeks ago that American Samoa’s economy “remains weak, particularly for small and medium sized companies, with little growth and tight cash flow persisting.


“Some of the larger companies are reporting steady sales but with little, if any real growth,” he said and pointed out that November and December are normally strong months for retail sales with Thanksgiving and Christmas “lifting volumes and increasing profits” before the normal downturn in January and February.