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Lolo Admin calls to identify ASG employees with 30 or more years of service

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Lolo Administration is taking a closer look at the current ASG Employees Retirement Fund policy and has requested all ASG entities to provide a report, which lists employees who have been employed by ASG for 30 years or more.

“In our ongoing efforts to explore practical avenues to reduce the overall cost of the government’s operation, we are taking a closer look on the current American Samoa Employees Retirement Fund policy particularly fixing the calculation of retirement benefits to 30 years of service,” Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga wrote to directors of ASG offices and departments in a June 11th letter.

“To accurately determine the amount paid” to the Retirement Fund by those employees with over 30 years of service, the governor requested directors to prepare a list of all active employees with 30 or more years of service. The report to the Governor’s Office should include the employee’s name, current position, years of service and salary.

According to the governor, the report should be provided on or before June 30, “to facilitate possible development of policies to address this issue, which is unnecessarily costing ASG money.”

While the governor didn’t provide additional details of possible policies, he did request directors to also validate their lists with the ASG Department of Human Resources to avoid subsequent verification, which will save time. A copy of the governor’s letter was also sent to ASG semi autonomous agencies.

It’s unclear at this point if such policies will require legislative approval, as an amendment to current law (the American Samoa Code Annotated), or if it will be an administration regulation, under the American Samoa Administrative Code.

Current law states that total contribution to the Fund is 11% with 8% from the employer and 3% from the employee.

In the last Legislative session, the House approved its bill that hikes the employee contribution to 5% but not the employer (ASG). Retirement Fund officials testified during a House committee hearing that the Fund has to draw down $1.5 million each month — from its investments — to make up the difference between what employees and employer ASG pay into the Fund.

The House version hiking the employee contribution will be taken up by the Senate when the Fono convenes next month for the 4th Regular Session.