A move by the American Samoa government to waive the 3 ½ cent excise tax on fuel sold to commercial fishing boats is designed to attract the fleet back to the port of Pago Pago.
In 2002, American Samoa sold 28 million gallons of diesel fuel. This year, the sales are estimated to drop to 16 million gallons or less.
The Manager of the Territorial Office for Fiscal Reform, Jack Kachmarik, says fishing boats are fuelling up at other Pacific ports such as Fiji because American Samoa's fuel prices have gone up considerably.
By waiving the 3 ½ cent excise tax, the government hopes to attract vessels back to Pago Pago not only to fuel up but also to replenish supplies and undergo maintenance.
The excise tax waiver was timed to coincide with the return of the long line fishing fleet.
About a dozen long line fishing boats are in town now.
The government intends to obtain approval from the legislature to abolish the fuel excise tax for the fishing boats when the new Fono sits in January.
Kachmarik said they hoped to get a pretty good idea at that time whether the waiver has worked to boost fuel sales.