Admin stands ready to help territory’s banks assist local small businesses
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has informed the ANZ Amerika Samoa Bank, Territorial Bank of American Samoa and the Development Bank of American Samoa, that he and his administration stand ready to provide any assistance with programs available to help local businesses through federal relief funding relating to the coronavirus.
The Governor’s letters – all dated Apr. 7th – were sent to all three banks, saying that one of the business relief programs is administered through the US Small Business Administration (SBA), and is now available to those who qualify.
He says business owners are applying for assistance from the SBA via the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program via an online application. Lolo said his administration, through the ASG Commerce Department is working with others to ensure local business owners understand how to access this program.
(Samoa News notes that the SBA — www.sba.gov — had distributed information on its programs, through press releases and information is also reiterated by updates provided by Congresswoman Aumua Amata.)
The second SBA program is the Paycheck Protection Program, which went into effect Apr. 3rd.
In his letter to Tasi Scanlon, Country Manager of ANZ Amerika Samoa Bank, the governor, said that as “our Territory’s only SBA lending partner, the onus is on ANZ to meet the needs of our business community during this desperate hour.”
“I understand that there are system and logistical issues that must be attended to in order to make this program available to local businesses,” Lolo wrote. “I urge … your banking institution to take every measure necessary to ensure that this aid is made available to our business community as soon as possible.”
In his letter to TBAS chief executive officer David Buehler, the governor said that it’s his understanding that “TBAS is currently working through the process to become an SBA lender. Our small business owners are in need of assistance offered via SBA and as such, we need TBAS to help funnel this aid immediately.”
For DBAS, the governor informed DBAS president Ruth Matagi-Fa’atili that if it is possible for DBAS to become an SBA lender, “I sincerely urge you to pursue this opportunity”.
The governor also recommended that DBAS take into consideration the special and unique circumstances now facing the local business community.
“Many business are struggling to stay afloat during this difficult time,” Lolo said. “I urge DBAS to assess its programs and capabilities and try to find ways to provide our businesses with much needed financial aid.”
“This may include the streamlining of your current lending programs, developing new emergency business loans, or perhaps postponing small business loan payments for six months,” Lolo informed DBAS president.
In all three letters to the banks, the governor notes that ASG Commerce director, Keniseli Lafaele can assist on behalf of the administration.