26 May 2010

Optimism about financial help to keep American Samoa's sole cannery

1:47 pm on 26 May 2010

American Samoa's member of the US Congress says he's optimistic funding will be found to help the Star Kist Samoa cannery remain viable in the territory.

Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin says he's included in a bill to go before Congress his request for US$18 million to be paid directly to the American Samoa Government in lieu of tax credits.

The cannery has announced up to 800 workers are to be laid off within the next six months to keep it competitive but says it could maintain or increase operations with some assistance.

Faleomavaega says both he and the Governor remain committed to doing all they can to help the cannery, whose operation has been heavily impacted by federally mandated minimum wage rises.

"Well we're keeping our fingers crossed. It's a very extensive bill. My little onliner is just one of several hundred other items in the bill. But hopefully we're hopeful within the next two to three weeks it will be passed by both houses in the Congress."

The House is scheduled to vote on the bill by June the 17th before it is reviewed by the Senate.

The Congressman says legislation is also being proposed to delay further increases to the minimum wage.