Lolo admin working to identify new $$ sources to help ASCC and LBJ
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — It was at last week’s cabinet meeting where Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga revealed that the administration is working to identify possible new funding measures for submission to the Fono to help the American Samoa Community College and the LBJ Medical Center.
Lolo told cabinet members that “cash flow” problems are a thing of the past and no longer a phrase used by the current administration.
ASCC and LBJ receive annual subsidies from the government, and for the new fiscal year 2019, the Lolo Administration is proposing $2 million for ASCC and $4 million for LBJ.
During the cabinet meeting, the governor explained, “Our two biggest challenges now with the authorities (semi autonomous agencies) is the financing” of LBJ and ASCC. Lolo then revealed that his office legal team “is working to find ways, to introduce new means of generating funds, for both LBJ and the college.”
“So bear with us and work with us while our legal team works on providing assistance in submitting to the Fono a set of proposed pieces of legislation that will generate some additional funds for LBJ and ASCC,” the governor told those at the meeting.
“Let's all think about how we can work on those things,” he continued.
He also asked LBJ and ASCC to look at new ways to generate revenue. “Let's push the agenda over to the Fono to work on those issues. Let's introduce some bills — good or not good — give it to the Fono,” Lolo said.
The governor’s revelation on measures to help LBJ and ASCC was made when heads of authorities were given the opportunity to provide any updates on their programs and operations during the cabinet meeting.
According to American Samoa Power Authority acting executive director, Wallen Young, like most ASG agencies, “cash continues to be a challenge, but we’re moving forward.”
Cash flow challenges were echoed by American Samoa TeleCommunications Authority acting chief executive officer, Falaovaoto Sualevai, who said, “we still have issues with cash flow” just like other agencies such as ASPA. (See Samoa News Aug. 10th edition for full details.)
American Samoa Shipyard Services Authority chief executive officer, Moefa’auo Bill Emmesley, shared similar concerns, saying,” like any other Authority, we depend on cash flow and that seems to be the biggest issue we have to contemplate.”
He asked, “How do we move forward with a continuous deficit on cash flow or a weak position as far as that is concerned?” and then replied, “We manage to control our expenses as hard as we can, but we’re able to maintain a positive cash flow system that we can pay our people, pay our bills, and move forward and purchase some of the necessary equipment and rehabilitate the infrastructure.”
“These are some of the internal efforts that we’re doing internally, using the little cash flow we have,” he said.
In response, Lolo said, to “reemphasize the issue on our cash flow… I thought that was a term of the past. In this administration, we have struggled and survived for six years under those conditions,” as described by Moefa’auo.
“I know you have to find ways to get out of that mess but that’s your job. So a cash flow issue is no longer a term used by this administration,” said Lolo, who emphasized that the current Administration has survived the last six years, despite cash flow problems.
“So you have the know-how, you have that knowledge to find ways to survive — that’s our job,” he told cabinet directors.
For ASCC, the college was represented at the meeting by Dr. Lina Scanlan, who shared some of the ways that they are getting extra finances. For example, ASCC will be offering evening courses starting later this month and will be featuring 10 courses, in programs like business, and teacher education.
“We also have leadership training,” she said and added that if any ASG entity is interested, “We can come out and offer the training to you and there is a minimal fee — that’s our way of making money” — like the evening courses.
Scanlan explained, “We’ve just finished Bluesky [Communications] training in Microsoft applications and we’re starting with StarKist in certifying their lab technicians every Saturday for 10-weeks.
“That’s our motivation from the governor, to go out there and get some money for the college and look for grants,” she added.
For LBJ, chief executive officer, Faumuina John Faumuina said, “We’re surviving financially; our people [at LBJ] are now used to cost containment measures” and are “careful with spending.”
However, he added, “financially, the biggest challenge” are members of the general public who don’t pay their hospital bills, and want the service — including clinic visits — free of charge.