In American Samoa’s new application for the State Small business Credit Initiative, SSBCI, which has received conditional approval from the US Treasury, previous contractors who were working with the Department of Commerce which administers the program were changed.
Director of Commerce, Keniseli Lafaele, explained that any changes made to an approved program including personnel, requires that American Samoa submit a new modification application.
Hence DOC had to submit a new application to modify the one approved in August 2014.
The new fund manager is now Marshall Ashley, local certified public accountant and attorney, the fund adviser is Andy Moss, a venture capital advisor at the New York University and the Office of Grants Oversight and Accountability is the compliance officer for the program.
American Samoa’s previously approved SSBCI Program was focused on creating a health care industry in the territory leveraging the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare.
But according to Lafaele it turned out that Obamacare as it applies to the territory is significantly different than what it is in the States.
As a result, the health care industry they hoped to develop by a marriage between SSBCI and ACA “proved to be a bit complicated and perhaps impossible.”
The US Treasury, after giving conditional approval to the new application early this week, is now waiting for a letter of amendment from DOC and the parties involved.
Lafaele is optimistic that they can get the SSBCI program rolling again in two weeks
Projects which were cleared for funding included a shopping complex in Pago Pago, a hydroponics farm and a renewable energy project.
According to the DOC Director, US Treasury has said all pre-approved projects need to go through the newly approved program.
He says these projects will be the first to be considered.
Lafaele acknowledges the leadership of Governor Lolo and Lt. Governor Lemamu and thanks them for their encouragement and patience while DOC worked with US Treasury to modify and restart the American Samoa SSBCI Program.