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Senate committee hearing on ASG finances canceled

Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee chairman, Sen. Magalei Logovi’i

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee chairman, Sen. Magalei Logovi’i, announced at last Friday’s Senate session that a hearing set for today, Tuesday, Jan. 22, has been canceled.

The two main topics that were to be discussed during the hearing included an explanation from ASG officials on how the government achieved a $3.9 million positive balance at the close of fiscal year 2018, and the revenue sources to repay the 2018 bond series.

Magalei informed his colleagues that Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has written to the Senate President requesting that the hearing be postponed because ASG Treasurer Uelinitone Tonumaipe’a and Budget Office director Catherine A. Saelua will not be available to testify, as they are working with off island auditors.

Lolo, in his letter, which was also addressed to House Speaker Savali Talavou Ale, noted that the Administration cannot honor the Senate committee’s request at this time.

“As you know, we are required to complete our single audit within a specific time to ensure that we satisfy our commitments that would affect our financial credibility and integrity,” Lolo wrote.

He explained that the 2019 State of the Territory Comprehensive Report submitted to Fono leaders contains a detailed explanation of the positive fund balance, and said he hopes the information will address the inquiry from Magalei.

The governor also included two copies of the Comprehensive Report for Magalei and his committee. (See Samoa News Jan. 17 edition for details.)

“With due respect, along with my commitment to full transparency,” Lolo requests Fono leaders “to please suspend requiring appearances of the Treasurer, Budget Director, Chief Procurement Officer, and the Director of Human Resources until the end of February, to allow them to focus on addressing audit issues with our auditors.”