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Special Program funding gets a boost in proposed FY2024 budget

Gov. Lemanu P.S. Mauga
Some programs added and some — like beautification — get more funds

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A “deferred” savings account for ASG employees; development of ASG’s land in Samoa; and building a small boat wharf in the Western District are among a handful of new government initiatives allocated funding under the proposed fiscal year 2024 budget for Special Programs — which is overseen by the Governor’s Office.

At the same time, several programs funded under the current fiscal year budget are getting increased funding in FY 2024, such as the Governor’s Contingency Fund proposed at $700,000 and the Island Beautification program, allocated $2 million.

This is according to data and information included in Gov. Lemanu P. S. Mauga’s FY 2024 Executive Budget summary letter to Fono leaders, who were informed that the proposed total funding for the Special Program category is $25.25 million for the new fiscal year — an increase of 30% from $19.58 million for FY 2023.

Lemanu explained that changes have been made to the special program as certain programs have been transferred into specific departments. Additionally, these are programs with funding earmarked for a specific purpose only and are not intended to be used on other needs.

“The primary purpose of each program is maintained and these moves provide better alignment with that department’s functions and responsibilities. In addition, new programs as identified have been added into the special program to support the governor’s vision,” the summary said.

The proposed budget document, as well as the Executive Budget summary documents, show 22 programs in FY 2023, eliminated from the FY 2024 budget proposal such as Constitutional Convention, EOB Maintenance, Manu’a/ Swains Transportation, and ASG’s consultants in Washington D.C.

Following a review of the proposed FY 2024 budget and FY 2023 budget documents as well as Executive Summary letters, Samoa News identified at least four new programs to be funded in the proposed FY 2024 — under Special Programs budget.

For example, the “Deferred Compensation Plan” allocated $200,000 — which the governor explained is to “setup a voluntary savings plan with a certain amount to be deducted from the employee’s payroll check. This would be a deferred savings account with interest accrued to help employees meet any future goals and objectives.”

Another program is identified as the “Independent Samoa Land Development” with a $1.5 million funding allocation, which ASG officials told Samoa News is to develop American Samoa’s land parcel in Apia, under the land exchange agreement reached during the April 2023 inter-Samoa talks.

In the Executive Budget summary letter, the governor explains that the funds will build “a central location in Samoa as a way to better respond to and resolve issues on immigration and any other inter island concerns between our two government.” No other information was provided in the letter.

KHJ News reports that ASG officials told a Senate committee last week that construction for an office on the land, at Moata’a, is expected to begin before year’s end and that the land-lease is just under 10-years, which means — under local law — it does not require Fono approval.

The third new project, listed under Special Programs budget is the Western District Small Boat Wharf, with a $200,000 allocation. “It takes too much time for the Search and Rescue to respond from the central location in the event of an emergency,” the governor said about this program.

“Due to its remoteness, a small boat wharf will be constructed so first responders will have the ability to respond in time when there is a call for help,” he said, but didn’t identify the location of the proposed wharf.

And the 4th new project, according to the budget document, is American Samoa Youth Day, with $300,000 allocated. Lemanu said that “youth is the generation of the future” — and called for in the executive order a special day to commemorate our youth and their development.

“This includes important activities whether it’s in sports, academics, developing social skills, and /or learning to cope with problems and being responsible individuals. Overall, it’s important to sow the seed when they [are] young as they grow older they can teach the next generation,” he said.


Fourteen programs, listed in the FY 2023 budget, are to receive increased funds in the proposed new FY 2024 budget plan. Among the high funding increases are:

• Shoreline Protection current budget at $300,000 to $2 million

• Island Beautification from $100,000 to $2 million

• Manu'a Development/ Maintenance from $600,000 to $2.5 million

• Ceremonial Activities from $400,000 to $1 million.

• Governor’s Contingency Fund increase from $300,000 to $700,00.

According to the budget summary letter, funds for Ceremonial Activities will cover recognized expenses for the 2024 Flag Day Celebrations in Tutuila, Manu'a, and Swains islands. (Samoa News notes the government celebrated the same ceremonies in 2023.)

For the Governor’s Contingency Fund, the summary letter explains that attempting to anticipate activities that would require financial assistance outside of planned expenditures approved by the Legislature is an exercise in futility. “Unexpected events necessitate earmarking funds to be available to the Chief Executive to address them,” it says.

For those who are not familiar with the “Island Beautification” program, and have questions behind it, this is a long-standing project since the early time of the previous Lolo Administration more than 8 years ago.

The governor said in his letter to the Fono that this is one major component essential to exemplify the prestige of American Samoa's natural décor and cleanliness worldwide, particularly to attract and retain the utmost interest of the visitors and foreign investors in the Territory.

“These efforts are not only made possible by the collaboration among departments and agencies, but also the huge role of the private sector in these efforts,” he said.

“Therefore, it is highly necessary for both the Territory to perform and consider what is necessary to progress and maintain the cleanliness of villages through roadside-village-residential beautification projects and other related-efforts island-wide. Overall, the funds will yield both social and economic benefits,” he explained.

Samoa News will report in future edition other issues cited in the governor’s Executive Budget summary letter.