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FEMA puts waiving American Samoa’s cost share on hold

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga’s request to the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for a waiver of the local 25% cost share for the COVID-19 national emergency declaration is “being held until the actual obligations for this disaster has been calculated.”

This is according to FEMA Regional IX administrator Robert J. Fenton in an Apr. 13th response letter to the governor, who sought a zero-cost share for American Samoa.

After the actual obligations for the national disaster are calculated, “FEMA Region IX will process your request at that time,” Fenton informed the governor.

“To the extent that you are engaging in work that may be eligible for reimbursement, the applicant and sub-applicants must comply with all applicable laws and regulations including applicable environmental and historic preservation requirements,” Fenton explained.

“We especially note the contracting requirements of 2 CFR Part 200 and the necessity to obtain applicable permits,” he said, referring to the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards.

With ASG’s financial coffers overburdened from the measles outbreak, followed by three back-to-back storms in February, and now the coronavirus pandemic, the governor requested “full elimination of the 25% match required of the American Samoa Government in order to receive FEMA reimbursement.”

Lolo’s request was submitted early this month to Fenton, who was informed that ASG’s financial statement at the end of February, estimates a “deficit of over $5 million” by the close of current fiscal year 2020.

Since the governor’s letter to Fenton there have been new developments, with Lolo requesting and US President Donald Trump declaring last Friday that a COVID-19 disaster emergency exits in American Samoa — which is the only US jurisdiction, State or territory — without a case. (See separate stories published elsewhere in today’s edition on Trump’s declaration.)