Lolo addresses concerns with ASPA, contract workers, and Adopt-a-School
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A brief summary update of the American Samoa Power Authority, the importance of the Administration’s Adopt-a-School Program, and timely submission of paperwork for contract workers were among the issues discussed at last Thursday’s cabinet meeting at the Su’igaula o le Atuvasa Beach Park in Utulei.
“ASPA is the life of our people,” Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga told ASPA acting executive director Wallon Young. “I’m counting on you, Wallon, and the Board.”
In his verbal summary update, Young explained, “Our focus right now over the next 5 years is power and water.” For power, ASPA is already looking at the design for the 20 megawatts PV as well as wind power generation.
For water, ASPA has several projects over the next 2 years and some have already started. According to Young, ASPA is faced with the difficulty of hiring engineers, but “we are doing our best”.
He noted that 2018 was a “very difficult year” for ASPA, with many challenges.
“Wallon, you have the life of our people in your hands,” Lolo said, and urged ASPA to move projects forward, especially with efforts to bring down the cost of electricity.
Lolo said a future cabinet meeting will be held at the ASPA compound, where Young is to provide a detailed report outlining all projects and the status of each project, especially electricity.
“My dream is that before I leave this administration, electricity costs will be down between 10 and 15 cents” per kilowatt hour, which is what the late Utu Abe Malae “promised me” when he took over the ASPA leadership post, said the governor.
He urged Young to make sure this promise is kept, and “make sure it happens.”
Lolo reminded executive branch directors to follow current policies for contract workers, making sure the contract is reviewed and renewed three months before expiration, and not wait until the last minute.
According to Lolo, there’s still this habit of some directors waiting to process paperwork in advance of the contract expiration, and it’s only when the contract worker doesn’t get a paycheck that the director goes to the Department of Human Resources.
According to the governor, what’s occurring is that the director is not complying with regulations, leaving the employee working without getting paid for 3- 4 months. “And that’s not fair to the employee and not good for the Administration,” the governor said.
While off island for medical reasons, Lolo said he learned that there’s not much being done by ASG entities in visiting schools — it’s the summer months and school is out.
He said cabinet members all have a list of schools each agency is assigned to.
He urged them to visit their respective schools — both public and private — to see what needs to be done, what needs to be repaired, and have it addressed before the new school year begins.
“This is another important issue for our administration,” said Lolo.
It was announced during the cabinet meeting that the new school year 2019-2020 for public schools officially begins Aug. 29th with a Department of Education assembly.