6 Apr 2011

Not enough information to pass bills says American Samoa Fono as layoffs loom

2:21 pm on 6 April 2011

The Fono in American Samoa is blaming a lack of information for its decision not to pass revenue-generating bills, as Governor Togiola Tulafono instructs government agencies to prepare for layoffs.

Agency directors have been informed that the government is 214,000 US dollars in the red and may struggle to meet the payroll next week.

Last week, the Fono passed a bill to increase income tax but a bill that would have resulted in hikes to alcohol and cigarette taxes was deferred until the legislature sits again in July.

Our correspondent in Pago Pago, Monica Miller, says senators have expressed doubt about the accuracy of Togiola's portrayal of the government's financial position.

"They said that when they ask how much money are you going to raise with this increased tax the government officials weren't able to give a definitive figure and also they did not seem to have too much details of the breakdown of the different categories of how much tax is going to be raised from tobacco, beer and alcohol."

Monica Miller says Governor Togiola Tulafono has told Cabinet he may recall the lawmakers for a special session before July.