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No ASG car available — that’s no excuse to not turn in daily cash collection, says governor

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga [SN file photo]
Says almost all ASG agencies that collect money, don’t make daily turn-ins

American Samoa Government’s revenue collection during the first quarter of fiscal year 2018 was $2 million less than the quarterly forecast, while the government underspent its first quarter budget allocation, according to a FY 2018 first quarter analysis by the Governor’s staff.

The first quarter ASG finance report was revealed by Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga during a cabinet meeting last Friday, where he said that many ASG agencies are not turning in money collections on a daily basis as required by law, but they are waiting three to four days later.

The ASG revenue forecast for each quarter totals $24.20 million, but during the first quarter — Oct. 1-Dec. 31, 2017 — actual revenue collections totaled just over $22 million, resulting in a $2.19 million “collection shortfall,” the analysis shows.

For expenditures, total allocation for the first quarter is $24.07 million, but total expenses by the government for the quarter is $19.02 million — resulting in a $5.05 million “under spent for the first quarter budget,” it says. “While our collections fell short of our projections, spending was below the quarterly allocations.”

During the cabinet meeting, Lolo thanked directors who continue to contain spending, despite having to forgo spending for other important projects and expenses.

And if the government continues with the current trend in collection that means by the close of FY 2018, ASG will face a shortfall of $8- $9 million in revenue collection, he said, adding that its the responsibility of the governor and all directors to find ways to ensure that spending is contained so that there is no overspending at the end of the fiscal year.

“It’s not an easy task going forward, but we have done this in the past, and we can do it again,” he said.

Lolo then informed the meeting that the latest report from Treasury Department is that the allotment of funding from US Interior Department for the first quarter of FY 2018 has not been received yet, as well as the allotment for the second quarter — which began Jan. 1, 2018.

The governor also said there is a long list of departments that want to buy cars using local funds and he told those who submitted such requests, not to think about their request anymore. He explained that the ASG Treasure and ASG Budget Office director have been informed to hold off on these types of expenditures.

He noted that the current ASG fleet can be used for ASG work — and then revealed that one “excuse” used by agencies for not taking their daily “turn-in” — money collected — to the Treasury in a timely manner is because there is no vehicle available.

“Catch the bus. There are many buses on the road,” Lolo said, and pointed out that it’s the director’s responsibility that the turn-in is made daily. He said some directors are taking three to four days before the turn-in is made; and a report has been requested from the Treasury outlining agencies not making daily turn-ins.

He said the “excuse that the turn-in could not be done because there is no car” is something that a director should rethink because making such an excuse is “not right”.

He said that making a daily turn-in is a regulation that has been in place for years in which by 3p.m. money collected by a department or agency is to be turned in to the Treasury Department. The governor said not turning in the money collected could result in the money ending up someone’s pocket, thereby resulting in more problems.

As a leader and a director, “you take the right action” by submitting the daily turn in daily, Lolo said, adding that almost all of ASG agencies, which collect money, don’t make daily turn-ins.

If the daily turn in is not submitted on a daily basis that “means you are not doing your job as a director, a leader,” Lolo told the cabinet meeting.