11 Jan 2017

American Samoa governor says 2016 'challenging'

7:47 am on 11 January 2017

The American Samoa Governor Lolo Moliga says 2016 was a difficult and challenging year for the government.

Lolo made the comments as part of his state of the territory address before the Fono this week, adding that whenever the territory holds gubernatorial elections, the government is faced with financial challenges as it prepares to transition to a new government.

However the governor said with cooperation between the Fono and executive branch the government did not close its books for Fiscal Year 2016, in a deficit.

He said the government finished the year in the black by $1.2 million US dollars.

Lolo Matalasi Moliga at his State of the Territory address.

Governor Lolo Moliga warns the economy remains shaky Photo: RNZI / Monica Miller

The governor highlighted some of the financial feats of his Lolo-Lemanu administration in their first term in office.

For the Fiscal Year 2013 the territory's revenues totalled $93 million.

The following year it went up to $98.9 million, in 2015 revenues rose to $114 million and last financial year local revenues fell to $104.4 million.

The governor did not give an accounting of the amount of money that ASG spent in those years but said that while revenues increased, the government's demand for operating funds also increased .

According to Lolo unemployment was registered at 20.4 percent in 2013 but in December it was down to 10.5 percent.

He said the reduction was due to the opening of Tri Marine plant, a $70 million investment.

Lolo said 1500 new jobs were created in the territory from Tri Marine's Samoa Tuna Processors plant and other developments.

Despite this, the governor said the economy remains shaky and uncertain because of factors beyond the territory's control.

He said one of the uncertainties is they don't know what President-elect Donald Trump has in store for the territories.

Senate President Gaoteote Palaie, Lt. Gov Lemanu Peleti Mauga and Congresswoman Aumua Amata Radewagen attend the State of the Territory address. Jan 2017

Senate President Gaoteote Palaie, Lt. Gov Lemanu Peleti Mauga and Congresswoman Aumua Amata Radewagen attend the State of the Territory address Photo: RNZI / Monica Miller