Fono to convene next Monday; Gov Lolo will deliver State of the Territory address
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Fono will convene next Monday for the third regular session of the 36th Legislature, and Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga will deliver his annual State of the Territory Address during a joint session at the Gov. H. Rex Lee Auditorium.
The Fale Laumei had been closed for public functions for several months, as it underwent upgrades and renovations, while the North Wing — facing the KVZK-TV office building — has been used as the temporary chamber for the House of Representatives.
Asked about the status of renovations at the Lee Auditorium, Commerce Department director, Keniseli Lafaele told Samoa News yesterday that they are preparing the facility “for the Fono opening only. Repairs will resume Tuesday.”
In preparation for the joint session, the Administration has been putting together a report which will be presented by the governor as part of his address, covering the government’s achievements and challenges in the last year, as well as the future economic outlook for the territory.
During the upcoming session, Samoa News understands the governor will be submitting to the Fono the names of members to ASG boards and commissions, such as the LBJ Medical Center Board, and the Territorial Bank of American Samoa Board, for confirmation.
Cabinet directors are to provide for the governor other issues for official presentation to the Fono for consideration. ASG officials said there are bills the Administration submitted during the last legislative session which are with Fono leadership, and will be requested for consideration without having to be resubmitted.
POSSIBLE NEW PROPOSED MEASURES
Samoa News understands that one of the new proposed measures the governor is looking at submitting is legislation to re-channel the 2% wage tax which, according to current law, is paid by all wage earners in the territory, with 50% of all proceeds collected earmarked for LBJ operations while the other 50% goes to the LBJ off-island medical referral program.
The legislation would split 1% of the 2% tax to fund the Succession Initiative for the Healthcare Professionals to ensure that a Samoan-based cadre of clinician core — doctors — is available to meet the healthcare needs of the Territory.
At this time, LBJ is working with the Fiji School of Medicine to secure at minimum, 7 slots to accommodate students from American Samoa to attend the Fiji School of Medicine, according to information received by Samoa News. This 1% would go to finance these slots.
The other 1% of the 2% tax will go into the special account to fund the Healthcare Professional Succession Initiative itself.
Samoa News understands that the governor is also looking at submitting legislation that will prohibit the importation of foam-based containers to ease the pressure on the dwindling capacity of the landfill.
This proposal is spearheaded by the American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA), which has conducted public hearings and meetings with the private sector, as well as groups at the village level — since early last year — to explain the measure.
Samoa News notes that at least one restaurant in Nuuuli is already using a ‘paper-based’ container for their food takeouts. It’s the same shape and size of the familiar white covered foam-based one, only it has a thicker cardboard texture.