AMERICAN SAMOA GOVERNMENT
Governor Lolo hosts final Cabinet Meeting of first term
The final cabinet meeting of the first term of Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga and Lieutenant Governor Lemanu Palepoi Sialega Mauga was held at the Department of Agriculture Conference Room on Thursday December 22nd.
Following opening remarks from Chief of Staff Fiu Saelua, Deacon Malaki Timu offered a blessing before the Honorable Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga addressed the gathering which included cabinet members, traditional leaders, support staff and the media.
The Governor prefaced the cabinet meeting by saying there were no new topics other than to emphasize thankfulness and sincere appreciation to all directors/agency heads and their respective departments for the accomplishments over the past four years. Governor Lolo then spoke about preparing for the next administration which would officially begin after the Inauguration Ceremony scheduled for January 3, 2017. The Governor urged agency heads to encourage their employees to attend the Inauguration in order to participate in this important event.
Governor Lolo next asked the Director of Port Administration Taimalelagi Dr. Claire Poumele to provide an update on the eagerly anticipated arrival of the boat Manu’atele which is now en route from the West Coast to American Samoa. Director Taimalelagi explained that the boat will take a few days to restock and resupply in Hawaii it before continuing to American Samoa. The Manu’atele’s scheduled arrival in the Territory is early January when it will begin to serve the people of American Samoa. She also explained that the Manu’atele would be able to travel to neighboring island countries such as Samoa and Tonga as necessary.
Governor Lolo again spoke and expressed the importance of using the experiences of the last 4 years when moving forward. Some of the important issues brought up by the Governor were the Political Status of American Samoa which is being reviewed by the Office of Political Status and Constitutional Review headed by Dr. Tapaau Dan Aga. Governor Lolo requested that traditional leaders work together to determine how our Samoan culture impacts Government functions and vice versa. The Governor stressed that all need to work together, the Fono, Samoan Affairs and Government agencies to make sure that our cultural requisites do not become a burden on our people but be embraced by all, especially future generations. Another topic raised by the Governor is examining our natural resources to ascertain a way to a sustainable economy. Tourism is an obvious area but with our remote location we must find ways to attract more visitors allowing for diversity to prepare for future challenges and the uncertainty the fishing industry at present. The Governor stated issues can be solved by working together and sharing resources and services.
Next on the agenda were reports from the respective Government Authorities. First, on behalf of the American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA) Mr. Paul Brown provided updates on a few of ASPA’s on-going projects, in particular the Satala Power Plant which will be officially be re-commissioned in March. The Ofu, Manu’a Solar Park is also scheduled to be completed in late February or early March.
Next to speak on behalf of the Medical Services Authority was Director Taufete’e J. Faumuina who reported that all is proceeding smoothly with cost containment measures in place and end of the year reports being completed.
On behalf of the American Samoa Telecommunications Authority (ASTCA) CEO Alex Sene spoke about preparations for 2017 and efforts to improve the wireless system as well as developing relationships with the private sector and the general public to improve services and revenues.
Next up was Development Bank of American Samoa (DBAS) CEO Ruth Matagi-Faatili reporting that the DBAS continues to serve the Territory through trying to provide the public with loans for their homes and businesses.
Speaking for the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) newly selected President Rosevonne Pato provided a short update regarding registration on January 11th-13th for the upcoming semester. President Pato reported that the new multi-purpose facility is soon to be completed and thanked Public Works, ASPA and ASTCA for providing the final work on utilities. A proposed project funded by CIP funds for a new Trades and Technology Center has been put out to bid.
Reporting for the Visitors Bureau was Deputy Director Vaito’a Hans Langkilde who spoke about plans to improve proposals to develop the tourism industry in American Samoa. These plans include talks with Hawaiian Airlines to create travel packages all the way from the East Coast starting in the New Year. Also travel packages are being developed with neighboring Samoa to increase tourism in the Territory.
On behalf of the Shipyard Authority, Moefaauo Bill Emmesley reported that two long liners have recently been repaired at the Shipyard. There are current negotiations with Stark Kist regarding use of the Shipyard for their needs including repairing their tanks providing sandblasting and renovations and continued work with ASPA by providing labor to assist with final preparation of the Satala Power Plant all in efforts to increase revenue for the Shipyard Authority.
After reports from the respective Authorities, Governor Lolo requested that the Authorities ensure their Boards are ready for the new administration without interruption of service to the public. Other topics the Governor touched on were continuation of island beautification campaigns and the Adopt-a-School Initiative which continues to improve school facilities for our students.
Governor Lolo acknowledged the Department of Interior and their on island Representative Mrs. Lydia Faleafine-Nomura for the fostering of good relations with the Federal Government. He also commended the Office of insular Affairs, specifically Mr. Nikolao Pula and extended gratitude to Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Insular Affairs Lupeosinasamoa Esther Kia’aina for her assistance to the Territory of American Samoa.
Governor Lolo addressed some of the biggest challenges for the next Administration and stressed that everybody explore all possibilities for one of the main challenges is the Education System. He stressed that quality is important and we must reform the system.
An opportunity to speak was then afforded to Secretary of Samoan Affairs Paramount Chief Mauga who used the opportunity to thank the Governor and Lieutenant Governor for their leadership, saying that it has made it easy for all to follow their lead. He then articulated to all gathered that God has put them in this position to serve the Territory of American Samoa.
Lieutenant Governor Lemanu then spoke, reinforcing the words of Governor Lolo in expressing gratitude to the Cabinet as well as thanking Governor Lolo for choosing him as his running mate for the last 4 years.
After final words from Chief of Staff Fiu Saelua, the cabinet meeting concluded with a final prayer.