Joint budget hearings begin this coming week on Wednesday
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Instead of each chamber holding their own respective hearings on the fiscal year 2022 budget the Fono will hold joint budget hearings starting this week.
Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee chairman, Sen. Utu Sila Poasa made the announcement during Thursday’s Senate session, saying the joint budget hearings will begin on Wednesday.
He said the hearings will start at 9a.m. and the schedule for budget hearings — which includes specific dates and times for each ASG entity was expected to be distributed to lawmakers shortly.
In previous joint budget hearings, day-one usually has the ASG Treasurer and the Office of Budget and Planning director providing an overall look at the final financial plan for the government. Among the issues that are of importance to lawmakers are ASG’s projections and estimates of local revenues to be collected.
And with millions of dollars in COVID-19 related federal funds, lawmakers want specific information on how such monies will be used and the time frame for ASG to spend that money.
The Administration’s FY 2022 final budget submission totals $552.78 million — to be funded with $110.16 from local revenue; $219.59 million in federal grants; $212.85 million under Enterprise Funds — which includes budgets for ASG’s semi autonomous agencies or authorities — and $10.26 million in Capital Improvement Projects.
The FY 2022 budget increased about 19% from the current fiscal year’s approved budget of $465.95 million and this is attributed to a hike in grants of more than $84.78 million in federal grants and $2.06 under the Enterprise Fund.
Several lawmakers remain concerned with the projected local revenue — which is the same ceiling as FY 2021 — due to the fact the Administration has implemented the ASG new minimum wage hike as well as salary increases for non-educator degree holders.