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Thousands of applications still pending in Cash Assistance Program

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“Make sure you respond when contacted” by DHS

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — More than half a million dollars under the Governor’s Cash Assistance Program (CAP), which covers the period from Feb. 22 to Apr. 18 has been paid out to private sector employees and businesses impacted when Code Red was activated after the first community spread of COVID-19 was confirmed. There are also 2,630 applications still pending.

Acting Governor Talauega Eleasalo Ale, shared the brief update at last Thursday’s COVID-19 Task Force virtual news conference, saying that a final report is being tallied with the total numbers to be included in a mid-year report to be issued some time this month.

Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga first announced the two arms of the program in April this year, to be funded by the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), with financial assistance for impacted employee overseen by the Human Resources Department (DRH) and the businesses by the Commerce Department (DOC).

Talauega, who is also the Governor’s Authorized Representative, announced during the news conference that 3,547 applications were received from employees in the private sector and 414 were accepted, with total payout of  $250,775. Additionally, 253 applicants were rejected for various reasons including incomplete information and 2,630 applications are still pending.

Talauega noted that DHR is working to process all of pending applications and to finalize payments. He explained that some of the delay is related to the fact that employees are not answering their phones. The phone numbers they gave in their applications are not responding so that is delaying the follow up to confirm information before payment is made.

“Rejected applicants are mostly those who have not confirmed the validity of their employment or have not shown proof that they filed local taxes” Talauega explained. “There are certain requirements to be met, and failure to meet those, means you don’t qualify for this benefit.”

While the deadline to apply was June 1, Talauega said, “we are still working to process applications that were made. So I would like to ask the community, if you have filed an application for this benefit, make sure you respond when contacted by the Department of Human Resources to make sure that we finalize the payments to you.

When the governor announced the program in April, he explained that the impacted workers would be provided up to $240 per week for qualified workers for the period that they were furloughed due to COVID-19 Emergency Declaration on Feb. 22, according to the news release at the time.


For the impacted businesses, Talauega said during the news conference, that 345 applied and 102 were approved while 147 are still under review “but 47 applications were incomplete and therefore deemed rejected.”

He noted that DOC is still trying to connect with these businesses to complete their applications and that total benefits of $350,000 have been paid to the approved business applications.

Talauega said there are other grant programs overseen by DOC, such as the Business Recovery Capital Program (BRCP) which offers grants up to $250,000 to eligible businesses.

“So there’s  alot of opportunity, a lot of benefits available for businesses, and again we ask you to coordinate with the Department of Commerce to make sure the applications are complete and get the benefits from these programs,” he said.

Talauega, who is also chairman of the task force, explained that the primary reasons for denial under these programs is incomplete information and businesses that never bother to file and pay for a business license.

“If you don’t have a business license you are not considered a valid business under American Samoa law, so your operations are illegal. Therefore you won’t qualify,” he said. “So businesses who are out there, please make sure to follow the law, so that you qualify when the government issues these types of benefits.”

The CAP for impacted businesses, as announced by the Governor in April, assists small to medium-sized businesses that, due to the public health emergency declaration, were required to close or reduce hours of operation resulting in a drop in revenue.

The program assists or covers business-related costs like rent, utilities, shipping, and other eligible operational expenses up to $10,000 worth per business establishment.

More specific details on the BRCP initiative available on DOC website (