20 Feb 2008

Three U.S. Senators favour deferring another 50 cent increase in American Samoa

10:06 am on 20 February 2008

At least three U.S. Senators are in favour of deferring another 50-cent increase in American Samoa's minimum wage, to avoid what they have describe as economic disaster.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources scheduled a hearing for next week on the impact of the minimum wage increases on American Samoa and CNMI.

The committee's, Bill Wicker, says CNMI's Governor and its Washington Representative and Congressman Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin, as well as other officials will testify.

He says the committee has not taken a formal position on this issue.

But Chairman Jeff Bingaman, Hawaii senators Daniel Akaka , Daniel Inouye and Faleomavaega have sent a letter to several other senators saying the next increase would cause serious damage.

American Samoa has said its tuna industry, which is a major source of revenue for the local government, cannot sustain another wage increase this year.

The CNMI is also asking the U.S. Congress to defer the implementation of the wage hike law in the CNMI.

Congressman Faleomavaega has introduced a bill which would remove the escalator provision in the wage law.