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EITC checks boost holiday cheer with two 3-day weekends in store

The Lupelele ECE performs

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Through a Dec. 19 memorandum, Gov. Lemanu P. S Mauga publicly confirmed the government holidays for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day — the two holidays, which both fall on a Sunday. And another release of Earned Income Tax Credit checks will keep holiday bells ringing at the cash register.

And the governor’s memo — released well in advance of the two holidays, is also helpful to the community and private sector for planning purposes.

Under local law, if a government holiday falls on a Saturday, it’s observed the day before, on a Friday and if it falls on a Sunday, it’s observed the following day on a Monday.

According to the governor’s memo, Christmas Day, Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022 will be observed as a holiday in American Samoa on Monday, Dec. 26. New Year's Day, Sunday, January 1, 2023, will be observed as a holiday in American Samoa on Monday, Jan. 02, 2023.

All government offices will be closed and normal activities will be suspended on that day. Employees of the American Samoa Government who are not required to perform essential services shall be excused from their duties. Employees required to perform duties on that day will receive holiday wages in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.

“Christmas is a time to reflect on the birth of Christ and all that this season brings. May we live as Christ did and embrace the spirit of love and giving. I encourage you all to take time to cherish your families and loved ones and reflect on all that you are grateful for,” the governor said.

“Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication. Have a safe and enjoyable holiday season. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!” he concluded.

The Governor’s official Christmas message is expected to be released soon through his office.

For the private sector, StarKist Samoa — the largest private employer in the territory — is taking its annual year end down-time, and the last day of production was last Friday, Dec. 16 with work resuming on Jan. 03, 2023.

Many cannery workers, who are from Samoa, usually return home during the down-time which is something that has not occurred in the past two years for many workers and their families due to COVID-19 travel restrictions both in American Samoa and Samoa.

This year, StarKist chartered on Monday the new MV Lady Samoa IV to take just over 200 employees to Apia. Other workers are taking the regular sail this week along with family members.

And the majority of the private sector is expected take Dec. 26 and Jan. 02 off, and this includes the Territorial Bank of American Samoa (TBAS).

Businesses are getting a big boost in holiday sales with the release on Monday this week of the second round of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) checks. Some stores reported busy traffic after 11a.m with customers coming in with “large bills” — referring to $100 and $50 bills.

“It was a great day for our store,” said one store clerk on the West side of the island.

Long lines were observed at TBAS branches in Utulei and Tafuna around 7a.m on Monday even before the doors opened at 9a.m.

A total of $6.1 million for 4443 qualifying taxpayers were covered in the second release of EITC for those who filed between Mar. 02 and Oct. 24. Treasury will announced soon additional information on the third release of EITC for those who filed after Oct. 24.

Stores and other retailers are hoping for an additional spike in holiday shopping between now and Saturday. 

At Samoa News, the office will be closed on Dec. 26 in observance of Christmas 2022, and Jan. 02, 2023 for the New Year.