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New summary report says Retirement Fund loan has less than $1 Mil left

A new ASG “summary” report on the $20 million loan from the ASG Employees Retirement Fund shows that less than $1 million is left to be expended, while allocations assigned to projects, such as for the Fono show a standing balance of close to $3 million still to be used.


The loan has been the subject of concern and complaints by lawmakers over the years because of the way it has been spent and last year, it became the subject of a probe by the Senate Investigative Committee, as the investigative panel sought clarification into where the money went.


The loan money, under the law, is to be repaid by a certain percentage of excise taxes imposed on beer, alcohol and tobacco and all customs declaration fees.




The SIC interim report last summer revealed that as of Apr. 26, 2012, only $2.39 million of the loan proceeds, which are held at the Bank of Hawai’i, had yet to be expended, and this information was based on ASG financial records.


(Samoa News notes there was no indication in the report if the ASG financial records to which it referred include a reconciled bank statement of the loan proceeds account.)


The SIC report also stated that some of the projects funded with the loan used up more money than was initially allocated for those projects, while some projects with allocated loan proceeds were in jeopardy of not having sufficient loan funds to complete projects.


Some of those notable examples were:


• Western District had spent $409,748, with a balance remaining of $490,252;


• Eastern District expended $683,849, with a balance of $216,151;


• Manua District had spent $847,900, leaving a balance of $52,100;


• the Fono expended $301,601, leaving a balance of $2,698,399


The SIC interim report says the largest overruns occurred in the Pacific Arts project ($1,072,563) and the Tug Boat (or Marisco) project ($1,450,320).




In the new ASG summary report that has made its way to some lawmakers, it shows that — as of Jan. 31, 2013 — a total of $19.03 million (or $19,039,692.60) has already been expended from the loan, leaving a balance in the fund of only $960,307.40.


According to the new report, of as Jan. 31, 2013:


The Western District remaining balance is $103,326.78;


The Eastern District remaining balance is $23,688.81;


The Manu’a District remaining balance stands at $2,789.31; and,


The Fono remaining balance stands at $2.30 million, as of Jan. 31, 2013.


The new report also shows that the Samoan Heritage Week in Hawai’i was allocated $50,000 but total expenditures stood at $153,602 and the ASG Fale Samoa in Utulei Beach was allocated $45,0000, while total expenditures were $64,419,19.


However, under the new summary, as of Jan. 31 this year, these overruns for the Pacific Arts Festival and Tug Boat dropped slightly, at $1,052,439 and $1,200,320, respectively.




The SIC Interim report noted three interesting points that were a part of the law passed by the Fono that allowed the government to borrow the money:


1) Under provisions of the loan, $1 million was allocated to each district to carry out their capital improvement projects, with 10% from each district going to the office that manages and oversees these projects,


2) The final determination of the loan allocation amount, or budget, by project was to be made by the governor (Togiola Tulafono), and


3) The authorization — or directives for expenditures — for projects was to be made by the governor.


Some House members of the current Legislature have sought additional information on the spending of this loan, while the most asked question seems to be: Are there any funds left from the loan that can be used as a funding source?


As it stands, if projects with allocated funds are still to be honored — the answer is no, with the Fono project being the focus of a major shortfall. However, as noted under the law — authorization and final determination of the loan proceeds is under the purview of the governor. In this case, it is now Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga who will have the last say.