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Two supplemental appropriation bills submitted as Senate Prez foretold

Senator Utu Sila Poasa
One will be reviewed today, the other … in limbo as its money already spent
andrew@samoanews.com

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — As Senate President Tuaolo Manaia Fruean had predicted last week, two supplemental appropriation bills were introduced on Monday in the Senate regular session.

Apart from the $36 million surplus for Fiscal Year 2023 which Tuaolo informed Senate members had already been used by the Lemanu administration without their authorization, a second appropriations bill of $22 million of unobligated and unexpended revenues from Fiscal Year 2022, was submitted as a supplemental for the Fiscal Year 2024 budget.

According to the bill’s Preamble, “due to the urgent need to assist in providing adequate funding for government operations, this act shall be effective immediately upon passage by the Legislature and approval by the Governor.”

The bill then appropriates the sum of $22 million to nine budget items:

(1) Legislative branch to address additional critical operational needs that are not addressed in the FY2024 Budget — $1,000,000

(2) Legislative Branch for 75th Anniversary Commemoration — $1,000,000

(3) Governor's Office to address operational needs not addressed in FY2024 Budget —$991,000

(4) Office of Samoan Affairs to address operational needs not addressed in the FY 2024 Budget — $400,000

(5) Department of Public Safety to address critical operational needs not addressed in the FY 2024 Budget — $886,000

(6) Department of Corrections to address critical operational needs not addressed in the FY 2024 Budget — $970,000

(7) Department of Legal Affairs for legal fees for outside counsel, case settlement and anticipated legislation to address critical operational needs not addressed in the FY 2024 Budget — $550,000

(8) Office of Public Defender to address critical operational needs not addressed in the FY 2024 Budget — $250,000

(9) Governor’s Office Special Projects for infrastructure projects for Tutuila, Aunu’u, Manu’a, Swains Island and other needs not addressed in the FY 2024 Budget —$15, 953,000

Total: $22,000,000

After the items on the agenda had been addressed and discussed, Chairman of the Budget and Appropriations Committee, Senator Utu Sila Poasa requested a committee hearing at 8:30 am on Wednesday (today) to discuss the bill and subpoenaed Treasurer Malemo Tausaga and Budget Office Director Catherine Saelua.

He instructed the secretary to inform the witnesses to bring detailed information on the breakdown of the $15,953,000 earmarked for the Governor’s Office.

Tuaolo reminded Utu that there were two supplemental bills submitted, but Utu replied that he has put aside the supplemental bill for the $36 million the administration has already spent, because he needed time to think and decide what to do about it.