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Governor delivers State of the Territory Address during joint Fono opening yesterday

Governor Lemanu P.S Mauga delivering his State of the Territory speech
andrew@samoanews.com

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The accomplishments of the Lemanu and La’apui Administration in the last four years were highlighted in the governor’s State of the Territory Speech during the official opening of the Fourth Regular Session of the 38th Legislature of American Samoa, yesterday morning at the Governor H. Rex Lee Auditorium.

In his introduction, House Speaker Savali Talavou Ale revealed that after discussion with Senate President Tuaolo Manaia Fruean, they had agreed that since this was the final regular session of the 38th Legislature, a joint opening ceremony should be staged so that the governor could deliver his State of the Territory Address, and reveal any issues to be discussed in this regular session including the FY 2015 budget.

After acknowledging the leadership and members of the Fono and Judiciary, and guests which included the Samoa Consul General in American Samoa, Fata Brian Kaio, Governor Lemanu P.S. Mauga began to summarize the events of the last four years that his administration had dealt with and acknowledged the help of the other two branches of government.

He reminded the gathering of the challenges caused by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic which took the lives of some residents and necessitated the closure of borders isolating many off-island for a long period of time. Everyday life was also impacted adversely due to the stringent precautionary measures implemented to try and stop the spread of the disease.

"But we persevered despite the life-threatening challenges and we recovered with God's grace," he declared. "The government was also proactive in carrying out its responsibilities to our people with the projects we implemented.

"Some of these projects are still ongoing, sending the message that the American Samoa Government is not dead. On the contrary, it is alive and well in all aspects of its service to our people for a better future."

Lemanu further acknowledged with thanks, the help of the Fono in resolving some of the pressing problems faced by his administration and in passing important proposed legislation that would benefit the people of American Samoa in securing funding, and improving security, health, education and the environment."

Other issues he mentioned included ongoing infrastructure projects nearing completion and some scheduled to begin construction soon, road construction in various parts of the island, the improvement of public parks, and joint efforts with neighboring Samoa to improve food security.

Governor Lemanu expressed his patriotic pride in the well-prepared participation of the American Samoa delegation to the 13th Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture in Hawaii.

He also commended the Samoan Heritage Week that took place after the festival and was attended by Samoa Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata'afa who extended her heartfelt thanks to the Samoan community in Hawaii and the American Samoa Government for this important event to preserve our culture and foster closer cultural relationships.

Lemanu pointed out that this month, the government was celebrating the 30th anniversary of the American Samoa Nutrition Assistance Program (ASNAP) coordinated by the Department of Human and Social Services (DHSS).

He stated that the establishment of this important federal program in American Samoa came about through the efforts of then Governor A.P. Lutali and then Congressman Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin who negotiated with federal authorities in January, 1993.

The American Samoa Nutrition Assistance Program was established in July, 1994, 30 years ago this month.

Governor Lemanu elaborated on the American Samoa Power Authority's (ASPA) Strategic Development Plan to counter the high oil and petroleum prices with solar and wind-generated power, and the improvement of water and wastewater systems.

Health services at LBJ were also mentioned with Governor Lemanu assuring the gathering that health services were running smoothly with improvements to be implemented in the near future thanks to grants recently acquired by LBJ and DOH.

Lemanu revealed that despite the huge amount of funds expended during the last four years due to unforeseen circumstances like the COVID-19 pandemic, American Samoa’s incoming revenue remains strong.

He announced that the proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2025 was $733.6 million with the following breakdown.

Local Revenue — $165.9 million

Grants — $282.6 million

Enterprise Funds — $274.4 million

CIP — $10.6 million

The proposed FY2025 budget is an increase of $69.6 million from the FY2024 budget that was a 4% decrease or $29.41 million from the FY2023 budget.

The governor concluded his State of the Territory Address by thanking the Fono (Legislative) and Judiciary for their assistance in helping his administration during the past four years.

Samoa News will be reporting in detail on the issues raised by Governor Lemanu in his address and Senate President Tuaolo Manaia Fruean's response this week.