The details of ASG finances in Fiscal Year 2017 are revealed in the English text of the governor’s speech which was distributed at the opening of the Third Regular Session of the 35th Legislature yesterday.
Actual revenue collections fell short of projections by $16.5 million but this was cushioned by actual spending being below budget by just over $17 million dollars.
The reduction in hours contributed to ASG’s reduced spending in the last fiscal year.
Revenues were projected to rake in $108.1 million but actual collections came to $91.2 million according to the governor’s written speech.
Contributing to the downturn in revenues is a $6 million shortfall in excise taxes due to “corporate challenges that interrupted and delayed the importation of cigarettes.”
Loss of 700 jobs with the closure of the Samoa Tuna Processors plant, and residual job losses in the private sector took out $5.1 million in corporate and individual taxes.
Expenditures were budgeted at $91.5 million but ASG spent just $74.5 million. Thus there was a positive balance of $27,703 at the close of FY2017.
The speech does not mention accounts receivables which would indicate ASG’s outstanding debts at the close of FY2017.
Local businesses have complained that ASG hasn’t paid substantial invoices for materials and supplies they’ve provided or services that they have rendered.
Governor Lolo has gone on record saying that ASG has paid all legitimate invoices and the ones which are outstanding are for purchases which did not go though the proper procurement process.
Lolo does report that ASG is uptodate on all bond payments and funds are accumulating in the bond repayment Escrow account to meet all bond payments on time.
The governor says he plans to resubmit amendments to revenue measures to “make them less invasive on the ability of businesses to remain profitable and to safeguard the loss of private sector jobs.”
Looking to the financial landscape for 2018 the governor said the fiscal environment is discouraging and mentions as the biggest challenges facing StarKist Samoa, lack of progress on the 30 (A) tax credit incentive and the pending increase in the local minimum wage.
Lolo said 50 percent of the economy depends on the tuna industry and 50 percent depends on the government and this is why the two sectors must be protected.
He said if the tax credit is not approved by the end of this year, there would be undesirable results for the cannery.
Lolo told the Fono yesterday in his Samoan remarks, he believes StarKist cannot afford the pending wage hike.
He said if the pay hike goes ahead, there will be changes in the cannery’s operation.
Governor Lolo said with a multitude of challenges punctuating 2018 “it’s imperative that we recommit to the principal of full cooperation and collaboration, refraining and abstaining from second guessing, or questioning our individual motives rather than focus on benefits that our people will realize from any action that we take.
“After all our positions exist because of the people with their expectation that anything that we do should be for their benefit.