Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — In the State of the Territory Comprehensive Report 2024, the financial outlook for American Samoa, according to the Administration, showcases the collective work the Lemanu- Talauega Administration has done to support the government and people of the Territory. It breaks down the financial outlook into a review of the ASG and US federal departments and offices that provide coordinated efforts and oversight to enforce the continued integrity of its revenues. For the Department of Treasury, the report touts the “unexpected and record revenue collections, maintenance of the ASG’s financial regulatory and supervisory system for American Samoa financial system, management of local funds and federal grants for our government operations, as well as the disbursement services to the people of American Samoa.” It further points out Treasury is “at the forefront of meeting the government’s core objectives of financial stability and revenue collection.” For the Office of Program Planning and Budget, the report looks at the preliminary 4th Quarter Performance Report- FY2023 and the FY2024 Spending projections. It notes that “inflation [increase in prices] is showing signs of leveling off as a result of the increase in interest rates.” While global risks of a recession remain, the report states, “in contrast, there are strengths in pockets of our local revenues in the tax area such as in the business sector and child tax credits that have boosted our revenue pool to positive levels.” It points to “federal aids to fund startup and ongoing projects in our economy is producing a positive impact to our revenue streams. “These catalysts continue to sustain and provide stability to our economy.” The report characterizes the local economy as vibrant and “continues to provide a steady pillar towards the solvency of our general fund.” Unaudited, a deficit of $36.9 Million is reported in the 4th quarter, which the report says is “mostly to defray costs incurred on projects to improve our community.” “In summary, our general fund is strong and sound … our local economy continues to be resilient and thriving.” The Territory’s Comprehensive Report for 2024 predicts that “our local economy will continue to sustain traction and thrive,” with “inflation peaking and projected to slowly descend, economic conditions will improve.” The administration sees the strong collection trends continuing, pointing to “the current YTD for 1st quarter of FY2024 amount to about $40 million. “Overall, projected spending for FY2024 to meet government operations is expected to be around $160 million.” The approved FY2024 Budget is $162.5 Mil, and it currently predicts estimated Year End Expenses to be the same. For the American Samoa Economic Development Authority it says that Debt Service managed by ASEDA “continues to be compliant with timely payments to investors,” including monitoring reports required by disclosure. “As of Sept. 1, 2023, the Territory has made 16 payments for a total of $84,166,031.57 of debt service payments to its investors as required,” the report states. The 2022 ASG Single Audit and the Financial audit were performed during the 2023 2nd quarter. Financial Highlights include the following: 1 FY2022, net position of the primary government increased by $56.1 Mil from 2021; 2 FY2022 governmental expenses increased by $103.7 Mil from FY 2021; 3 FY2022 governmental revenues from business-type activities, which include the airport, Industrial Park, shipyard, and program revenues exceeded expenses by $3 Mil “compared to the increase of $702,000 from FY2021; 4 The General Fund cumulative net fund balance as compared to FY2021’s net fund increased by $22.9 Mil. “The improvement was due to realizing a surplus in FY 2022 of $22.6 million. “Since 2012, ASG has continued from the prior and current administration has recorded a year-end surplus in the General Fund nine of the ten fiscal years. It says that preliminary reports of the general fund balance indicate another positive fiscal year. However, it did draw attention to the “Modified” Opinion it received for the Aggregate Discretely Presented Component Units “due to the failure of the Territorial Bank of American Samoa (TBAS) to provide an updated or 2022 financial audited report.” A modified opinion is said to be given because of a misstatement about the treatment or disclosure of a matter in the financial and/ or non-financial information; or a limitation in scope. To date, TBAS has not stated publicly why it did not complete its FY2022 audit. The report does not explain the changes that have occurred within TBAS, due to it not completing its FY 2022 audit. In June of 2023, Gov. Lemanu P. S. Mauga asked the TBAS Board and the Office of Financial Institutions to remove then TBAS President and CEO David Buehler, citing the failure of the bank to submit an audited financial statement for Fiscal year 2022, which he said impacted ASG’s government wide audit, its obligations to bond investors, and could possibly affect the territory’s credit rating. The Board voted against removing Buehler. TBAS President and CEO Buehler resigned in Sept. 2023. There was no reason given for his resignation. It should also be noted that TBAS Chief Financial Officer Mrs. Danielle King resigned and left TBAS at the end of Aug. 2023. The reason for her departure was not made public, but Samoa News understands there were differences cited with the Board of Directors of TBAS and Buehler. The primary government (ASG) received an “unmodified” opinion overall— meaning the opinion that is expressed is when the auditor concludes that the financial statements are presented fairly, in all material respects, in accordance with the applicable financial reporting framework. But, TBAS’s failure to update its audit resulted in the Territory’s audit not being complete and ASEDA “as required by its bond disclosure requirements and covenants filed a ‘Failure to File’ with its investors through the reporting mechanism…” ASG reports it does anticipate an updated TBAS audit this January 2024, in preparation of the 2023 audit, with all primary and components units to be filed on Apr. 30, 2024. Tomorrow, Samoa News will report on the 2024 State of the Territory financial outlook as it relates to the US Treasury of the Inspector General Audit, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Territorial Audit Office. All three offices review the ASG’s compliance in use of local and federal revenues.

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