26 Mar 2009

American Samoa's lawmakers surprised to learn of US$8m in offshore fund

5:34 pm on 26 March 2009

Some lawmakers in American Samoa were surprised to learn that the territorial government has a surplus of 8 million US dollars sitting at an off-island account.

The information only came to light when the House held a hearing on a bill allocating 5 million dollar to fund LBJ hospital's off-island referral programme.

The surplus is being invested, without Fono approval, with the investment firm of Smith Barney.

House of Representatives members were also surprised to learn that the money is funds the government received after it paid off last year the 2000 Refinance Bond.

The House Vice Speaker, Laolagi Vaeao, told the Treasurer Magalei Logovi'i that the refinance bond was paid off in July last year, but the Executive Branch failed to tell Fono this long-term debt is paid.

Mr Vaeao and other House members criticized the Treasurer over the government's move in committing the 8 million for investment without Fono approval.

However, Mr Logovi'i says there is no need for money to come back to the Fono for approval, because this is done only when it's to be spent.