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Fono asks for ASTCA financial reports — New policy: requests must go through Governor's office

ASTCA building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Legislative Financial Officer (LFO) Talalemotu Mauga has followed up on his Jan. 28, 2019 letter to ASTCA Chief Executive Officer, Lewis Wolman regarding several ASTCA financial reports requested by a member of the House of Representatives.

In a Feb. 11, 2019 letter to Wolman, the LFO referred to ASCA section 2.0602, Cooperation of Government Agencies which notes: "The agencies of the government shall cooperate with the Legislative Financial Officer in order that he may carry out the investigations, studies, analyses, and reports so directed to him by the Legislature, by opening their records to the officer during normal working hours and times."

As part of their legislative responsibility, Mauga continued, these reports are "critical to lawmakers" as they need to "fully comprehend the financial crisis plaguing ASTCA, and perhaps offer viable or alternative solutions to the government's telecom authority."

Mauga told Wolman that in order for the Legislative Financial Office to do its due diligence work as required by law, he is requesting Wolman's "cooperation and assistance" in providing the following: ASTCA's 2017 and 2018 audit reports; Revenue and Expenditure Reports from 10/1/2016 to 9/30/2017 and from 10/01/2017 to 9/30/2018; Account Receivable Report from 9/30/2017 and 9/30/2018; and Account Payable Report from 9/1/2017 to 9/30/2018.

To accommodate the internal policy, Mauga told Wolman that a copy of his letter was sent to Fiu Saelua, the Governor's Chief of Staff.

The requested information is to be picked up no later than today, Feb. 15

ASTCA's financial reports were requested by Tualauta faipule Rep. Larry Sanitoa who said the LFO has shared with him his disappointment with the ASTCA CEO's response to his initial letter, saying there has been a new policy, that all requests for financial reports must be routed through the Governor's Office. 

"This was never the case in the past, as the law is very clear pursuant to ASCA 2.0602 — Cooperation of Government Agencies," said Sanitoa.

"A legal remedy to acquire these reports is being entertained if ASTCA and other government agencies continue to stall or give excuses on why they cannot provide critical financial reports to the Fono," he continued.

"With over $59 million — not including another $7 million in Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) given to ASTCA, all in the name of Hawaiki Cable — the contributors and the retirees of the Retirement Fund, plus the taxpayers who will be paying for the bonds, have the right to know how all of these monies are spent," Sanitoa concluded.


Samoa News is not sure if the CIP funds of $7 million noted by Sanitoa as “given to ASTCA” for the Hawaiki Cable is the amount noted in the draft Memorandum Of Agreement (MOA) as the $8,361,321”swap” the government was going to do in order “to ensure tax exempt status of the 2018 Bonds” is maintained, while paying off the balance of what the government says ASTCA owes the Retirement Fund for the $18.7 million loan it made for the Hawaiki project.

(See story in Samoa News Monday, Feb. 11 edition.)

If it’s not, then this is an additional $7 million to add to the already more than $43 million the government says it has provided ASTCA, in direct and indirect financial assistance.

Samoa News understands ASTCA has asked for further assistance to fund its inventory of products, plus other needs; however, no dollar amount was identified.