Governor’s cabinet meeting takes up 7 agenda items
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Governor Lemanu P. S. Mauga, along with Lt Governor Talauega E. V. Ale convened the weekly Cabinet Meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023 and addressed a number of topics.
During the meeting Gov Lemanu congratulated Poumele A. P. Galea’i for his appointment to the Senate by his Manu’a (Ta’u) district.
Poumele most recently served as Executive Director of the Am Samoa Independent Living Council, which is the advisory panel dealing with services for those with disabilities and their families. He will take the seat of the late Senator Lauifi Nunu Paopao Tauiliili, who passed away July 9, 2023 at the Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.
In his opening remarks the governor said, “We find ourselves now in the third year of our term, and I want to extend my heartfelt commendations to all you dedicated directors and leaders for your unwavering commitment to moving us forward.
“Together, we have accomplished a remarkable array of projects, from essential road improvements to the construction of school buildings, walkways, and drainage systems, among many others. While we have achieved plenty, it's important to remember that there is still much work ahead of us."
According to a press release issued by the Governor’s Office, the matters discussed during the meeting were:
1. President Biden’s Proposed National Marine Sanctuary in the Pacific: They discussed American Samoa's position regarding the proposed National Marine Sanctuary for Pacific Remote Islands (PRIA) and its potential implications for the region. Director Taotasi A. Soliai of the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources presented the areas of concern, and introduced NOAA’s Workshop for PRIA here in American Samoa on September 12-13, 2023 regarding this matter, and encouraged all cabinet members to attend.
2. Upcoming 2nd Annual Resilience Summit preparations are underway according to the presentation conducted by Director Lisa Tuato’o of the Office of Disaster Assistance and Petroleum Management. The summit will be on September 26-28, 2023 and will underline the importance of resilience and preparedness in the face of challenges for the communities.
3. AS Humanitarian Relief efforts for Maui, Hawaii: Governor Lemanu emphasized American Samoa's commitment to humanitarian relief efforts, particularly in support of families affected by the tragedies in Maui, Hawaii, and recent fire incidents. The donation drive started on September 4, 2023 and will close September 9, 2023 at the Tufele Cultural Center at the Suigaula o le Atuvasa Park in Utulei.
4. Adopt a School Initiative: Directors were tasked with revisiting the Adopt a School Initiative in the previous week. Governor Lemanu reiterated the need for Departments to use this coming week to visit their respective schools as assigned by GM 195-23.
5. Atoa o Samoa Executive Meetings: The upcoming Atoa o Samoa Executive Meetings will be hosted by the Samoa Government. Governor Lemanu mentioned that it will be held in two locations: Upolu and Savaii after the White Sunday celebrations. Further details of this event will be forthcoming.
6. End-of-Year Activities: The busy end-of-year schedule was highlighted; Governor Lemanu underscored the need for effective coordination and planning to ensure successful outcomes for each event. This includes the Pacific Remote Island Area NOAA Workshop, Oceania Softball league, Christmas TAOA Program, Samoa Bowl, among others. A calendar of events will be disbursed to the cabinet.
7. Executive Budget: Governor Lemanu expressed the importance of fiscal responsibility, urging Directors not to seek additional funding from the Legislature during their budget hearings, and to ensure that their employees are being compensated accordingly.
Samoan Affairs Secretary, Paramount Chief Mauga Tasi Asuega voiced the pressing needs in the territory, including critical infrastructure requirements such as the new Hospital, an aircraft, and road development, and the government's commitment to addressing these vital areas.
In his closing remarks, Lt Gov. Talauega underscored the critical need for legal expertise within American Samoa.
He also emphasized the government's unwavering commitment to tackling the pressing issue of drug and substance abuse in the territory, revealing a multifaceted approach.
"It is one of the top priorities of the Governor to confront the challenges of drug and substance abuse head-on," Talauega said. "We are dedicated to a comprehensive strategy that encompasses education, enforcement, and treatment, working diligently to safeguard the well-being of our community and build a brighter future for all."
Governor Lemanu introduced the newly approved Director for the Department of Search and Rescue, Save Liuato Tuitele, and again congratulated Executive Director Poumele A. P. Galea’i for his appointment to the Senate.
The meeting concluded with a prayer led by Governor's Chaplain Mageo Patolo Mageo.