Bond report shows just over half of proceeds expended
As of Oct. 1 the American Samoa Economic Development Authority (ASEDA) has expended just over $45 million in proceeds earned from the sale of three bonds, according to a new ASEDA status update bond report, which shows that the largest allocation from bonds is for the government owned Territorial Bank of American Samoa (TBAS).
Of the three ASEDA bond issues — Series 2015 A, B, & C — the government entity collected a total of $78.91 million in revenues and as of Oct. 1, $45.27 million (or $45,274,255.78) has been expended, according to the bonds report, which was made public during a news conference on Oct. 1 and the report has also been submitted to the Fono.
The bonds were issued to fund capital assets and refinance outstanding debts of ASG in order to make payments more affordable, and to create a bank to provide critical banking services to the territory, according to the status report, which provides the latest updates of projects being funded with bond money as well as how much has been expended so far.
The project with an allocation of $13.5 million — the highest costing project — is the establishment of TBAS, which is governed by a seven-member Territorial Bancorp Holding Company. At the time of the status report, $3.5 million had been expended.
TBAS was opened Oct. 3 at the Centennial Building in Utulei and has been busy opening accounts for personal checking and savings. Their ATM machines are also up and running outside of their main branch — there is a $3 fee for withdrawing money from non-TBAS accounts. Business accounts will not be available until the end of October or beginning of November.
In connection with banking services is the local regulator, the Office of Financial Institution, which is funded with $1.5 million from the bonds and so far $88,628 has been expended. The report notes that OFI, which is headed by a commissioner already confirmed by the Fono, is the primary regulator for financial institutions chartered in American Samoa.
The second highest project allocation totals $8.1 million with $6.51 million expended so far for American Samoa Power Authority’s three renewable energy projects: Ta’u and Ofu islands renewable projects which calls for the installation of Hybrid systems and the Aoloaufou project that is the installation of two 110-kilowatts wind turbine.
The projects’ goal, according to the report, is to reduce dependency on fossil fuel, which becomes too expensive or too environmentally damaging, while renewable energy technologies are clean sources of energy that have a much lower environmental impact than conventional energy technologies.
There is a separate renewable energy project for the Pago Youth Center, which is allocated $280,000 and this entire amount has all been expended. This project supports the operational costs of the youth center’s solar energy project, comprising 62.7 kilowatts panels.
The next largest allocation of $6 million is for “border security,” according to the report referring to the Rapi Scan project, which calls for X-ray equipment to be installed at the territory’s ports of entry.
Three scanners arrived late last month and the final one is to arrive later this month. Of the total allocation, $3.76 million has been expended.
Another large allocation, totaling $5 million, is ASG’s share in the building of the new vessel for Manu’a, which is now scheduled to arrive in the territory the middle of next month, November. The ASG crew for the new MV Manu’atele has been undergoing training in Washington State where the vessel was built, as well as US Coast Guard certification.
Port Administration deputy director Christopher King said during a cabinet meeting last month that the boat project totals $13.6 million funded by ASEDA bonds, Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funds, and the federal transit administration.
He said to build the vessel cost $12.8 million, and the balance will go towards other project related costs — such as insurance, fuel, crew training and fees.
According to the ASEDA bond update status report, $1.56 million of the $5 million allocated for the boat project has been expended.