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House passes the FFAS 55-year lease extension amendment

House Vice Speaker Fetu Fetui, Jr
House Vice Speaker says lease price is too cheap and too long

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The House of Representatives voted against a Legislative disapproval of an ASG lease, yesterday, thereby passing the  Concurrent resolution H.C.R No. 38-16, allowing an amendment to a lease agreement between the American Samoa Government and the Football Federation of American Samoa (FFAS) extending the term of the current lease to fifty-five (55) years, beginning on December 1, 2023, and with a new expiration date of November 30, 2078

The Attorney General Fainuulelei Falefatu Alailima Utu, Director of Parks and Recreation Ken Tupua and Director of Commerce Peti Matila appeared before the House of Representatives to explain more about the Lease Agreement between the ASG and the FFAS .

House Vice Speaker Fetu Fetui, Jr. spoke against the lease arrangement saying it’s unfair for a $1 dollar per year lease, compared to other government land leases.

Fetui Jr. said it’s hard to imagine, leasing government land for 55 years at only $6 million. (Referencing the amount the International football federation said it would be investing to build the field.)

The House Vice Speaker said, 55 years is too long.

 “I have a lease and it's over a million for the house, and before the year ended there was an increase,” he said as a comparison to the FFAS land lease for 55 years for only $6 million.

Fetui Jr. supports sports developments for future generations, he said, but the $6 million is not enough.

He reminded the AG about the other soccer field in Pago Pago, and what about that land?

Furthermore, the Football Federation is a sports body organization with lots of money, he pointed out.

And if it's about the money, then the government has leftover money to build a soccer field.

But for him, he doesn’t support the lease increase to 55 years for $6 million. “Why not ask for $20 million?”

AG Fainuulelei explained, “When the President of the Football Federation visited American Samoa, recently he asked to invest $6 million in a soccer field.

But he knew that for a lease of more than 10 years then it needed to come before the Fono. So. now there is money available, the AG said.

Ms Matila told members of the House this land would be ideal for more sports and also she is grateful for the return of this land to the ASG from the US federal government.

In support of the amendment to the lease from 9 to 55 years, the AG says, there is hope for other visiting soccer teams or tournaments, to be held locally to help build up the sports in the territory, and there is a need for an international field, that means it won’t be only the $6 million (investment) at which we would be looking.

Faipule Fiu John Saelua called for a vote — to accept “what’s in your hand for others to come.”

The House Vice Speaker, who had introduced HCR 38-16 in the House on the Nov. 14, 2023, and a few others voted in support of the concurrent resolution, which would disapprove the lease amendment, while most voted against it, thereby approving the amendment.

A representative from the Governor's office said he was happy with the outcome.

(Land leases approved by the Fono, are with the way they are written, must be disapproved to be approved. Voting against a land lease, means you have to vote for it.)

In other business, the House of Representatives passed in its third reading the HB 38-30, on the appropriation of the second supplemental for budget FY 2024 of $3.1million.

As of today, Friday, the House of Representatives will hold a hearing on HB 38-29.

This bill appropriates the sum of $36million of surplus revenues, collected in FY 2023 to supplement current and proposed operations and projects for the government .