Amata clarifies that territory is not relegated to secondary status
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Congresswoman Aumua Amata has responded clearly in a letter to Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga’s request for assistance to ensure that American Samoa’s needs are fully articulated with assurance of its fair share of Congressional approved COVID-19 relief funds, according to the Congresswoman’s Office.
Lolo takes the view that the “needs of the territories, particularly American Samoa, with no confirmed case, are relegated secondary status” in the distribution of these federal relief funds. (See Samoa News edition yesterday.)
Lolo had requested that Aumua look at the distribution formula and the inherent criteria “because our population size will not accurately reflect needed financial resources to fully meet our demands.”
Responding to Samoa News inquiries, Aumua said yesterday she has already communicated publicly that the “nearly $40 million in direct funds were part of a $3 billion block grant funding that is for all of the territories and the District of Columbia on a population-based formula.”
“American Samoa received nearly double the per capita amount per resident of the 50 States, as California received approximately $350 per capita, while American Samoa receives almost $700 per person,” she explained. Aumua points out that future federal “legislation will likely address further state and territory needs as the Coronavirus health pandemic evolves.”
She also noted other funds as well, such as:
• $55 million in additional insular areas assistance grants for US Interior Department’s Office of Insular Affairs that ASG will be part of;
• The $1200 stimulus checks;
• $600 per week pandemic unemployment assistance that we were able to get included in as a “state”
• participation in the US Small Business Administration’s $350 billion direct loan program
• other US Department of Health and Human Service grants available for demonstrated need.
Aumua explained that future legislation in Congress would reflect the needs of the national emergency as it develops.
“Proposals for additional aid to besieged state and territory governments and for infrastructure assistance are circulating and will be timely reviewed by Congress in the coming weeks,” she said.
Yesterday, the Congresswoman provided a summary of the COVID-19 relief package for American Samoa, including the inclusion of senior citizens, who receive Social Security benefits in the $1200 federal stimulus check assistance. (See stories on this website.)