No House Action on Bill to Establish ASTCA by Law

The administration bill which would change ASTCA’s status to a true legislative authority is still pending in Committee in the House of Representatives.

Currently, ASTCA exists through an executive order. Unlike bills passed through the Fono, executive orders can be rescinded by a governor at anytime.

In this case, the next governor could rescind Governor Lolo Moliga’s executive order and return ASTCA to being a government department.

The legislation is a close copy of ASPA’s existing title.

It proposes a seven member board unlike ASPA’s constituted five director board.

The new board will have to be approved by the Fono. ASTCA’s new board chairman will be compensated at the rate of $7,000 per year. ASPA’s chairman received $5,000. Correspondingly, ASTCA directors will be paid $6,000 a year as opposed to ASPA directors who receive $4,000. It should be noted that ASTCA had $18.1 million of revenue in FY2019 against ASPA’s FY2019 revenue of $70.0 million.

The director’s compensation does not seem to be consistent with the size of the operations they oversee.

Like ASPA, ASTCA will be able to borrow up to 50% of equity. ASTCA’s FY2019 audit shows the telecom company having $47.5 million of debt. If the legislation is passed over $42 million of debt would be rendered ineligible and required to be repaid.

Passing the legislation early in this session would enable Governor Lolo to appoint a new board prior to the session’s close. If confirmed, the next governor would be precluded from appointing directors of his own.

Two senators told KHJ News that they have not acted on their version of the bill but hope that when it passes the House , it will then come to the Senate for review.

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