Governor expands on details of his overseas trip during this week’s cabinet meeting
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — American Samoa having its own National Guard; US nationals wanting to vote locally from overseas; and meetings with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation were highlighted in a comprehensive report shared by the governor with his cabinet after his month-long trip overseas.
The Cabinet meeting on Tuesday this week was held at the American Samoa Community College Multi Purpose Center, where the governor presented a slide show highlighting his meetings in Virginia, at Army bases, and in Hawaii and Washington DC.
He led off with their visit to a chicken farm, citing the need to develop opportunities to help prepare and sustain the American Samoa economy during difficult times like encountered during the COVID-19 nationwide lockdown and the unprecedented supply chain challenge.
Lemanu said if there is one country that loves to eat chicken, it’s American Samoa.
One of the critical issues that came up during discussions with Samoan communities abroad was about their right to vote in American Samoa, since they are US nationals and cannot vote where they reside in the U.S.
“Attorney General please look into this, they are US nationals and have migrated to the States, given their status, and also they cannot [vote] locally without living here and they cannot afford to travel down just to vote.
“They asked if they are unable to vote, who are they and where do they belong?” Lemanu said.
“How do we address these issues? They have migrated to the states to seek for a better future just like us and so it begs the question, where can they vote?” added the governor.
He urged the AG to look into it and consider a solution to address this. Regarding the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation meeting, in efforts to get the local Territorial Bank of American Samoa federally insured, Lemanu said they did not say “no nor yes” to the request for assistance.
“However they said there are additional documents they need to review before they can make a final and informed decision.
Another issue brought up was the lack of an FDIC insured bank in American Samoa.
“Also they note that there are banks owned by the government and yet are FDIC approved on special conditions and certain circumstances, which are located in Washington and California,” said Lemanu.
Lemanu also gave a status report on the Pentagon Credit Union Bank where they are asking for “additional funding” and it reminded him of an email received from the Lt Governor that even the local TBAS is seeking additional funding from the government.
“This has been an eye opener and reminder that our local bank needs assistance from the government.”
The traveling group also visited Arlington Cemetery, one of two national cemeteries overseen by the United States Army, where nearly 400,000 people are buried in its 639 acres in Arlington, Virginia.
The issues cited by Lemanu were reported in press releases disseminated while he was off island, however in this report to the cabinet he expanded the information.
The governor said they also visited dementia facilities and it is time for the government to look into this initiative.
“In Washington we visited two facilities, adult day care centers; they hold sessions at these facilities for the elders and for those that cannot attend the facilities, the staff are sent out to visit them.”
According to the governor, it takes up to two weeks to train men and women in Maryland and Virginia that work at these facilities and urged that DOH consider looking into this.
The governor also pointed out panel discussions with soldiers and American Samoans near the Army bases in the US. The governor acknowledged the Samoan churches overseas that provide a village-like setting with church ministers leading the Samoan communities.
Lemanu thanked Lt Governor Talauega Eleasalo Ale for successfully holding the fort at home and also Secretary of Samoan Affairs, Mauga Tasi Asuega and cabinet, as well as members of the public for their prayers and support.
More from the Cabinet meeting in later editions.