Lolo’s final State of the Territory Address highlights ASG finances
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — “Preliminary operating figures” at the close of FY 2019 - which ended Sept. 30, 2019 - is estimated to have an “operating surplus” of more than $700K, increasing ASG’s funding balance for that fiscal year.
This is according to Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga’s State of the Territory Address yesterday during a Fono joint session, opening the Third Regular Session of the 36th Legislature at the Fale Laumei.
While the official address was outlined in a booklet, Lolo gave a summary of ASG finances during his address - delivered in Samoan. He said the governor is required by law to provide a financial outlook of the government and he was providing a summary of the past 7 years.
According to him, when the current administration took office Jan. 3, 2013 ASG faced “$44.5 million of debt exposure” and an estimated FY 2013 year-end deficit of just over $5.17 million.
This “immediately compelled” the new administration to issue cost containment measures on Jan. 4th - the day after the inauguration - to “control wasteful spending with concurrent implementation of our vision of financial prudence and fiscal accountability to restore” ASG’s financial integrity.
At the close of FY 2013, ASG got a surplus of over $3.07 million which “reduced the previous year deficit balance” of over $7.88 million down to $4.80 million (60.1% reduction). But ASG’s financial condition at the close of FY 2014 wasn’t too good, as ASG was spending more than it was collecting.
FY 2014 financial results registered the deficit fund balance to more than $13.15 million, caused by the more than $8.35 million of deficit spending, Lolo said, adding that re-enforcement of cost containment measures was re-affirmed in FY 2015, with positive results.
At the close of FY 2015, there was an operating surplus of more than $3.99 million, reducing the deficit fund balance to $9.15 million (30.2%). “Even brighter financial outcomes were witnessed at the close of [FY] 2016,” with an operating surplus of more than $6 million - reducing the deficit fund balance by 66.1% to just over $3.10 million.
“Operating year 2017 produced historical results, for it transformed the deficit operating trend of the government to its first recorded positive fund balance of $786,300 dating back almost two decades ago,” Lolo explained.
The “historical setting trend” continued in FY 2018 with an operating surplus of over $3.08 million resulting in a positive fund balance of more than $3.87 million by the close of FY 2018.
“Preliminary operating figures for 2019 estimate an operating surplus of $721,487 which will increase the positive fund balance” to more than $4.59 million or 18.6%, said Lolo. “We are extremely confident that [FY] 2020 will mirror the continuation of the trend of continued growth in our positive fund balance, anticipating an operating surplus at year-end,” he said.
Over the last 4 years, Lolo implemented a new budget proposal process in which spending was based on estimated collected revenues.
LAST OFFICIAL ADDRESS
Yesterday was Lolo’s 8th State of the Territory Address, his final one as chief executive.
He said it’s been a long and difficult journey, especially at the beginning of his administration when he and Lt. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga were presented a huge deficit - in millions - at the close of FY 2012 which carried over to FY 2013.
“All that we have accomplished is through our working together with the help of God,” Lolo told lawmakers. He expressed appreciation to the Fono for continued support over the past 7 years.
He acknowledged his cabinet directors for their contribution and hard work that has brought ASG finances into the “black”; the support from Chief Justice Michael Kruse and the Judicial Branch; and the US Department of Interior which has been working closely with the administration over the years.
Lolo also acknowledged senior administration officials and cabinet members who have passed away during the last 7 years: Falema’o “Phil” Pili; Afimutasi Gus Hannemann; Utu Abe Malae; Pulele’iite Tufele Li’a; Ameko Pato; Fagafaga Daniel Langkilde; and Steven Watson.
Samoa News will report later this week on other issues outlined in the governor’s official written address.