ASTCA: Integrity & Transparency

The Territory cries out for fast, dependable, reasonably priced Internet (and cell phone service).

Utu Abe Malae (ASPA CEO) and Dr. Rosevonne Pato (President of ASCC) spoke eloquently to the Cabinet last week, sharing how the future in education, telemedicine and the “Smart Grid” are here now, if the Territory only had fast internet.

Frequently, Samoa News has also struggled to serve you, our valued readers, due to the current slow unreliable service.  

So clearly ASTCA, the Samoa News, all ASG departments, and our American Samoa residents are all on the same page.

Samoa News suggests that the Interim ASTCA CEO Puleleiite Tufele Liamatua Jr. and ASG embrace transparency in Fono testimony this week so we in the private sector, in the media, and the public can provide input to our Fono representatives and senators; and help ASTCA in our personal purchasing decisions to better achieve our common telecommunications goals.

Samoa News has not found it easy recently to confirm information from ASTCA. Therefore we sincerely hope members of the Fono will serve the public this week by asking some of our important questions below (and seek clarification on answers provided).

1)        What are the terms and assurances for repayment of the Hawaiiki Cable loan from the American Samoa Government Employees' Retirement Fund?

2)        How was the Hawaiiki Cable loan and now the possible Tui Cable commitment made when a serious past due debt exists to satellite internet provider O3B and to Amper Bluesky?

3)        It is alleged that many of the new higher paid ASTCA employees are contract employees, not ASG employees, working for ACMA Management Consultant Inc., whose owner, Aoe'e Adolfo Montenegro, managed Amper Bluesky.

Does a conflict of interest exist between these new contract employees and ASTCA, as their loyalty is divided between their company and the best interests of ASTCA and ASG?

4)        At the time of Montenegro’s consideration to be the Governor’s communication consultant, was it disclosed that his purported annual salary of $200,000 was for only a part time consultancy? Did ASTCA or the Governor’s Office disclose to the Fono, the territory’s media or the public that Montenegro has purportedly also accepted a position as CEO of Federated States of Micronesia Cable? Thus, did ASG/ ASTCA knowingly accept Montenegro’s two part time jobs at $500,000 annual salary, at the same time ASG/ ASTCA was laying off employees and curtailing hours?

5)        Has the contract between ASG/ASTCA and the Governor’s telecommunications consultant, Montenegro been made available to members of the Fono, the public, or the media?

Does that contract and that of the new contract employees have a provision that prevents them from future ownership of ASTCA/ ASTCA assets or competing against ASTCA?

Would you not agree that it would be prudent to safeguard against possible self interest which might be counter productive to the ongoing success of ASTCA?

6)        If ASTCA was to be privatized do any limitations exist on the transfer of assets due to US federal subsidies, or ASG debt to acquire and operate those assets? 

7)        The premise of the Tui Cable is a lower price due to a Pacific Island group Nation purchase as opposed to a single Nation arrangement. 

Wouldn’t the economies of scale provide even lower prices for the Territorial consumer if ASTCA embraces an even larger international purchasing group of Nations?

8)        Are members of the Fono, the public, and media allowed to review ASH Cable documents? These documents would help members of the Fono assist with current telecommunications decisions and financing?

9)        As it has been documented in the Samoa News that satellite Internet provider O3B technicians have visited the Territory in recent months, why haven’t Internet service problems been resolved? Does a lack of prompt payment or past debts affect repair solutions?

10)      Are not lives at risk when ASG required ASTCA cellular service to be the service for ASG departments, including first responders, due to the quality of service, which has not seen much improvement over the past months?

Samoa News, like most prudent people and institutions, subscribes to both services — just to be on ‘the safe side’. (Like today when ASTCA cut off our phone service.)

12)      Puleleiite, were you paid — at the same time — for all your previous capacities — as Interim ASTCA CEO; as ASTCA Chairman of the Board; and as a House Representative?  If so, was that legal? Is there even an investigation into this ‘double or triple dipping’?

13)      Isn’t it strange that ASG is objecting to foreign telecommunications ownership transfer from one foreign entity to another, yet has no problem allowing a foreign internet cable company, i.e. Tui Cable, to be the viaduct for personal, financial, and ASG confidential information?

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