From $44.5 million in debt to positive fund balance

Details of ASG’s financial position from FY2013 when the Lolo Lemanu government took office up to the close of Fiscal Year 2019 are contained in the printed version of Governor Lolo Moliga’s State of the Territory address.

The governor states that when he and Lt Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga took their oath of office, ASG faced $44.5 million of debt exposure and an estimated FY2013 year end deficit of $5.1 million.

Following fiscal cutbacks and spending restraints, the government closed FY2013 with a surplus of $3, 078,253 which reduced the prior year’s deficit balance to $4.8 million.

In FY2014, the deficit fund balance climbed to $13.1 million caused by $8.3 million of deficit spending. Things started looking up the following year.

In FY2015, there was an operating surplus of $3.9 million which shrank the deficit fund balance to $9.1 million.

This was followed by an even higher operating surplus for FY2016 of $6,053,652 which reduced the deficit fund balance to $3.1 million.

Then in Fiscal Year 2017, ASG recorded its first positive fund balance in two decades  of $786,000.

For Fiscal Year 2018, the positive financial position of the government continued with a positive fund balance of $3.8 million, which was the result of an operating surplus of $3,089,874.

The printed version of the state of the territory address said that preliminary operating figures for 2019 estimates an operating surplus fo $721,487 which would increase the positive fund balance to $4.5 million.

“We are extremely confident that the 2020 year will mirror the continuation of the history making trend of continued grown in our positive fund balance, anticipating an operating surplus at year end,” said the governor.

A comprehensive report of the state of the territory which was also distributed , states that  the administration’s commitment to fiscal prudence and financial accountability ,resulted in many planned programs being either scaled backward or suspended until funding was available.

“Our decision to be fiscally responsible by limiting spending to actual revenues collected has garnered criticism from new members of the House of Representatives claiming that the ASG could not claim to be operating in the black from 2013 to 2019 except for 2014 when it did not pay full subsidies to authorities. But this is the essence of being fiscally responsible inherent in the principal that spending will be tied to actual revenue collections.  The annual budget sets the spending threshold but actual executed spending is predicated and controlled by actual revenue collections.”

According to the report, the administration is proposing aggressive steps to compel Congress to reconsider the application of federal policies “such as the cabotage, which has stymied all our efforts and investment to expand our tourism industry. “

Its revealed that the governor sent a letter to the US President for a one year cabotage waiver to allow Samoa Airways, Samoa’s national airline,  to uplift passengers from American Samoa destined for Hawaii and the mainland .

“Moreover, we have through the last General Accountability Office assessment of the federal minimum wage on American Samoa requested the repeal of the current minimum wage law in favor of reactivating the Wage Industry Committee under the administrative purview of the Department of Labor.”