Ads by Google Ads by Google

Sen. Togiola opts for caution despite admin’s optimistic projections for 3rd quarter

Sen. Togiola Tulafono
The emergency fed funding is not permanent, he reminds

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Former Governor and now Senator Togiola Tulafono has cautioned about “emergency funding” poured into the territory and overlooking the shortfall of $11.67 million in revenue collections by the Government.

 “The emergency funding we are now receiving will finish and after that we will have to rely on revenues collected from taxes. I am not happy and I will not accept the records provided by the current Administration on their revenue collection,” said Togiola.

He made the comments during the hearing yesterday about the move to increase the Governor and Lt Governor’s salaries and amending of former Governors’ retirement checks where they would receive 60 percent of monetary allowance to reflect the salary of the current Governor in office. (See story elsewhere in today’s issue.)

 “In my 10 years in office and from experience in the next two years we will feel the impact in the shortfall of revenue collections. We will face financial troubles in the near future,” said Togiola.

 “The revenue from taxes are good for now given the federal funding is flowing in and in turn boosting our economy, but once the supplies are short and no more stimulus funding, we will not receive our projected revenue collections.

“This calls for concern,” said Togiola.

The former Governor is referring to the ASG’s third quarter Treasury report, which states that Corporate tax projections for third quarter is $16.3 million — however the actual revenue collected amounted to only $14.36 million with a shortage of $1.9 million.

 “Individual tax projections is $27.53 million, while actuals is $25.40 million, leaving $2.13 million under budgeted; Excise taxes projected $23.2 million, actuals came in at $17.66 million leaving a $5.53 million deficit; excise taxes on soda are projected at $3 million and $2.05 was collected with a $949,163 shortfall; Military cover over had a $2million projection and $877,867 was the actual with $1.22 million short of revenues.”

Also included in the 3rd quarter report was the assurance by Budget Director, Catherine Saelua that all three branches of government have operated within their 3rd quarter budget allocations, from April-June 2022.

Saelua pointed out that continued uncertainty persists within the global economy given the global conflicts as a result of the Russian/Ukraine war, constraints in supply chains, and high inflation that has increased the cost of food supply, energy, freight and import of various produces into our territory.

 “As the FED continues to raise interest rates in an effort to bring down inflation, some experts believe that this may potentially lead us into a recession.

 “And others are saying the increase in employment and positive reported corporate earnings with optimistic guidance are significant factors as to why a recession may not be in the cards.”

Saelua says that despite the global risks and not being immune from them, the local economy continues to be more resilient granted that it has benefited greatly by the influx of federal aid to the territory.

 “As a result our economy continues to sustain momentum and traction for the 3rd quarter, period ending 30 June 2022.

 “The preliminary YTD expenditures for the 3rd quarter totaled $92.4 million of the total budget of $122.8 million accounting for about 75 percent in pending levels.

 “This total includes the supplemental budget of $12.6 million in special programs. Given the current rate our general fund year-end projection will come in slightly lower than the approved annual budget.

 “Each and every agency and Department within the American Samoa Government must live within their means in order to achieve a balanced budget.”