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Senate endorses with amendments House version of supplemental budget bill

Sen. Togiola Tulafono

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The House version of the $7.4 million supplemental budget bill for Fiscal Year 2022 was approved in the Senate this week with amendments to allocate $5.9 million for the Territorial Bank of American Samoa (TBAS).

The supplemental budget is funded from unbudgeted, unobligated, and unexpended revenues from Fiscal Year 2021.

The move came about following a request by Senator Togiola T. A. Tulafono citing that some of the obligations cited by the government are not “on an emergency basis” other pressing issues at hand should be considered.

Togiola is also chairman of the TBAS board.

He said after the closing and exit of the ANZ bank, members of the public turned to TBAS and so monies deposited have increased — therefore the government should also increase its capital investment in the government-owned financial institution.

Adding, under bank laws the bank should have a five percent ratio of investment in line with deposits.

According to Togiola, TBAS deposits were over $140 million however that has increased significantly, to over $400 million.

He then proposed to approve half a million for the fono and $1 million for the emergency response in Manu’a related to the recent earthquakes and use the balance of $5.9 million for ASG’s capitalization or investment in the Territorial Bank of American Samoa.

The original supplemental bill introduced in September by the Administration outlined  $4.1 million for emergency response in Manu’a related to the earthquakes; $500,000 for the Fono for critical operational needs not addressed in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget; $250,00 to extend the Centennial Book contract; $300,000 for the completion of the American Samoa Veterans Memorial; $500,000 for local matching funds for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law projects; $500,000 to the Department of Legal Affairs for legal fees for off island counsel in ongoing and anticipated litigation; $500,000 to the Samoan Language Commission to pay for rent, salaries and other expenses; $150,000 for the Territorial Audit Office to pay for salaries and related personnel expenses; $100,000 for the American Samoa Resilience Commission and the Governor’s Resiliency Office; and $500,000 to the Governor’s Office for drug enforcement efforts.

The bill now goes to the House for their endorsement as the House approved the bill as submitted by the administration.