ASG Employees Retirement Fund lends $4Mill to ASTCA for “Hawaiki”

fili@samoanews.com

ASG Employees Retirement Fund board of trustee chairman, Va’anatiu Tofala Iafeta has confirmed that a $4 million loan from the Retirement Fund for the American Samoa TeleCommunications Authority (ASTCA) is already approved.

ASTCA board chairman Roy J.D. Hall told a Senate committee hearing last year that ASTCA had submitted an application to the Retirement Fund seeking a $4.7 million loan for the first two payments for the undersea fiber optic cable Hawaiki cable project.

In a news release last year, ASTCA said it signed a contract with Hawaiki Submarine Cable LP, the owner and developer of Hawaiki submarine cable system, where ASTCA purchases a spur to connect American Samoa to the international cable and capacity to the US West coast.

Early this year, there had been unconfirmed reports that ASTCA had been granted approval of its loan from the Retirement Fund.

And when Va’anatiu appeared yesterday morning before a Senate Retirement Committee hearing, he confirmed the loan to ASTCA. The committee hearing was for confirmation of the governor’s reappointment of Va’anatiu, Maaelopa Bob Tuiasosopo and Aloma Langford as board of trustee members.

The governor also submitted the nomination of Sen. Tuaolo Manaia Fruean to replace former board member Le’i Sonny Thompson, who resigned, when taking over the post of Police Commissioner in February this year.

During the committee hearing, Sen. Galea’i M. Tuufuli asked if there are any local loans from the Fund, to which Va’anatiu cited the $2 million for the Development Bank of American Samoa and “$4 million” for ASTCA.

While Galea’i didn’t inquiry for further details on the DBAS loan, he did seek some information on the ASTCA loan, which Va’anatiu said is for 7 years at 8%.

And as of Apr. 11, the Fund’s financial portfolio was at $191 million and under local law, 10% of the Fund can be loaned locally, according to Va’anatiu, who added that the American Samoa Government itself no longer has a loan with the Fund.

Senators later confirmed all four nominees during the Senate session. The nominees were all confirmed last week by the House.

In a letter to the Fono leaders early this month, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga said the terms of Va’anatiu, Maaelopa and Langford have either expired or will expire in August this year. Therefore, the trio is being nominated again for a new four-year term.

For Tuaolo, the governor said he would fill the remainder of Le’i’s term, which expires in August of next year.

The governor said Tuaolo is well known to the Fono, and has served in all three branches of government for over 40 years. “As a member of the board, he will be able to bring his vast experience to the benefit of our present and future retirees,” the governor said.

Tuaolo is a retired High Court judge, former police commissioner, and a former chief election officer. Tuaolo has served in the Senate off and on throughout the years.

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