20 Aug 2003

American Samoa queries legality of cabinet

11:20 am on 20 August 2003

The American Samoan House of Representatives has called for the attorney general to render a written opinion on whether the governor, Togiola Tulafono, should resubmit the names of his cabinet before the budget is reviewed.

The House says that cabinet members in the administration of the late governor, Tauese Sunia, should have automatically tendered their resignation to Togiola when he was sworn in as the new governor in April this year.

The House says according to local laws, Togiola would then resubmit their names for reconfirmation by the Fono.

But, this procedure wasn't followed and the House is urging the attorney general, Fiti Sunia, for a legal opinion.

During budget reviews, the only people allowed by law to testify before lawmakers are cabinet members.

The government's 232.5 million U.S. dollars for fiscal year 2004 is now pending in the Fono and any delay in the attorney general's opinion, means a delay in the review and approval of the budget.