AMERICAN SAMOA GOVERNMENT
October 3, 2016
THE TERRITORIAL BANK OF AMERICAN SAMOA IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS
The new Territorial Bank of American Samoa opened its doors to the people of the Territory after a ceremony at their renewed location in the Centennial Building on October 3, 2016. Following introductory remarks from ASG Chief of Staff Fiu Saelua, the gathering was blessed with a prayer by Monsignor Viane Etuale, and then in a show of unity, the new bank employees combined to sing some Samoan hymns.
Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga next addressed the gathering, opening his comments with thanks to “all who helped make this day happen”. He voiced appreciation for leaders and members of the Fono, Congressional Representative Aumua Amata, Territorial Bank consultants, the bond legal counsel team, and members of the ASEDA board with special recognition for Chairman Ueligitone Tonumaipea.
“Today is a day our people will remember for a very, very long time”, Governor Moliga said, “not because we dared to challenge the status quo or that we endeavored to find a banking solution for our people, our businesses and our economy, but more so because the leaders of our Territory have come together to find a common solution and an answer to the crippling challenges affecting the quality of life of the people of American Samoa”.
Governor Moliga spoke about the historical undertaking achieved through collaboration of the Legislature and Executive Branch upon receiving notification of the exodus of the Bank of Hawaii. He thanked the members of the Legislature for their wisdom and vision which would be “remembered by generations to come”. The Governor next thanked the Bank of Hawaii and specifically Chairman, President, and CEO, Mr. Peter Ho. He also thanked BOH for all of their donated assets, which include Bank of Hawaii’s local buildings, equipment, ATM machines, and the Bank Manager’s Home. “This is an incredible gift to the people of American Samoa and I sincerely thank you,” Governor Moliga said.
The Governor next recognized the support of Governor Gary Herbert of Utah and others in that they “cleared the path” in the search for a banking solution for the people of American Samoa. Special appreciation was given to a “son of Samoa” Mr. Vince Haleck, for his selfless efforts for the Territorial Bank through important contacts in the State of Utah and in Washington D.C. Governor Moliga recognized the great assistance from the Department of the Interior, Honorable Esther Kiaina and staff, for help in establishing the new bank. The Governor continued with appreciation for the local business community, the Territorial Bank’s financial advisers, investment bankers, and the bond legal counsel team for their efforts in establishing the new Territorial Bank. Governor Moliga further thanked the American Samoa Economic Development Authority (ASEDA) board “for its diligence and commitment to seeking financial options and alternatives for our Territory and our people”.
Next to be recognized were the members of the new Territorial Bank of American Samoa starting with the board, Chairman HC Utu Abe Malae, Vice Chairman Steve Watson, HC Alo Dr. Paul Stevenson, HC Fuiavailiili Keniseli Lafaele, HC Papali’i Lauli’i Alofa, Ruth Matagi Fa’atili and Salaia Gabbard.
After his remarks in English, the Governor continued in Samoan, emphasizing the importance of the new bank in providing diversity and competition for the benefit of the people of American Samoa. In closing, Governor Moliga said that “whatever we endeavor together to achieve with God as a foundation will be likewise blessed by God”.
Chairman of the new TBAS and ASPA CEO, HC Utu Abe Malae spoke next saying the bank will start small and grow in time and with support from the public will be successful. HC Utu was followed by an impassioned speech by Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie commending the Lolo and Lemanu Administration for their efforts in establishing the new bank. The Senate President had the assembly applauding and laughing when he remarked “This is the people’s bank and I will call it, ‘we bank’.”
The final speaker at the ceremony was BOH Vice Chairman, Chief Administrative Officerand General Counsel Mark Rossi. Mr. Rossi congratulated American Samoa for the establishment of the new Territorial Bank noting that this is a major step for the future economic success of the Territory. Governor Lolo presented Rossi with the concurrent resolution from the Fono to the Bank of Hawaii for their many years of service in the territory.
Proceedings were concluded with a ceremonial cutting of the ribbon by First Lady Cynthia Moliga and then the doors to the new Territorial Bank of American Samoa were opened for those present to view and admire. Congratulations to the people of American Samoa.