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ASTCA forecasting a ‘positive’ operating position in 2020

ASTCA building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The American Samoa TeleCommunications Authority (ASTCA) is forecasting a “positive operating position in 2020”, with significant growth forecasted for mobile service revenue that is consistent with investment in 2019, according to ASTCA’s FY 2020 summary information included in its 28-page FY 2020 budget book submitted to the Fono.

ASG authorities — such as ASTCA — are submitting separately, their own FY 2020 budget with specific details and summaries. For ASTCA, its new fiscal year budget proposal totals just over $21.11 million with 178 employees, compared to FY 2019’s approved $43.34 million-plus budget with 194 employees.

Forecasted FY 2019 operating revenues was over $35.55 million, compared to forecasted operating expenses of $36.43 million - resulting in a loss of $875,951, according to financial data highlights in the agency’s budget book.

ASTCA faced a much higher loss in FY 2018 — with actual operating revenues at more than $38.96 million versus actual operating expenditures of over $46.43 million, resulting in a loss of more than $7.4 million in that fiscal year.


ASTCA is forecasting a positive operating position, with an “operating income” of $644 at the end of FY 2020.

It provided highlights of its FY 2020 budget, saying that “overall reduction in operating revenue [is the] result of reduction in non-revenue funding.”

Non-revenue funding source for ASTCA in FY 2020 is the “potential” $1.5 million from the US Department of Interior to assist with capital project works. ASTCA expects this funding to support capital expenditure plans.

Another highlight in ASTCA’s proposed revenue sources is the hike in mobile and wireless services — which is forecasted at just over $5.07 million compared to $3.01 million in the FY 2019 approved budget.

According to ASTCA, of the total “mobile and wireless revenues”, the highest is prepaid mobile revenues at over $3.78 million, compared to $1.82 in FY 2019. Other revenues for this section are product sales, postpaid mobile, and “other revenues”, which are all less than $1 million. 

ASTCA notes that it was able to achieve $2.48 million in revenues in FY 2018 for prepaid mobile, and the majority of mobile subscribers utilize prepaid services.

In FY 2020, the highest revenue source for ASTCA is “Local Network Services” with forecasted revenues of more than $6.48 million compared to $5.97 million approved in FY 2019 — an 8.43% increase; “Local Network Services” includes residential and business customers — due to increased broadband, which is attributed to Hawaiki cable infrastructure.


According to ASTCA, the increases in personnel expenses and contractual services are due to filling of vacant positions and new support contracts for infrastructure related projects, respectively.

Total personnel expense stands at $4.75 million compared to $4.08 million in FY 2020. Personnel costs represent 24%- 27% of total revenues.

According to ASTCA, strategies have been implemented to reduce cost for all of its expenditures. For personnel, overtime is controlled and pre-approved; hiring is on a critical needs basis; and managers review teams and manage costs.

Under “contractual services” the proposed FY 2020 budget totals $2.20 million compared to $1.16 million in FY 2019 — an increase of 90.13%, according to ASTCA documents, which explained that the increase costs are due to new contracts signed for support associated with Long-Term Evolution (LTE) mobile network, Hawaiki cable, business support, and key consultants engaged.

(Samoa News points out that ASTCA will soon launch its LTE network which, according to ASTCA’s 2nd quarter FY 2019 performance report, “is key to ASTCA’s future fortunes.”)

ASTCA shared with lawmakers other specific strategies to control spending:

•     repairs and maintenance costs to be controlled and managed for vehicles, buildings, and others;

•     vehicle use will be strictly controlled to reduce wastage — including review of processes around installations, fault resolutions, and other works;

•     strengthening controls over inventory management to improve retail and maintenance material stocks and purchasing;

•     all management and staff travel will be restricted; and

•     travel will be limited to support purposes.

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga had informed lawmakers that the reduction in ASTCA’s proposed budget is due mostly to the restructuring of Hawaiki cable obligations to the Retirement Fund office.

Lawmakers are expected to raise this issue when ASTCA officials appear next week for its FY 2020 budget hearing.