PAGOPAGO, 04 SEPTEMBER 2020 (SAMOA NEWS) — American Samoa Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga has described the estimated more than US$170 million in COVID-19 pandemic federal aid to American Samoa as a “tsunami of cash inflow into the territory” and a “blessing in disguise” — boosting the local economy, which was also augmented by increased production at StarKist Samoa.

The governor made the observation in his cover letter to Fono leaders when he submitted the American Samoa Government’s fiscal year 2021 budget proposal of more than US$464 million for the new fiscal year which begins on 02 October, 2020. 

In the letter the governor noted the “enormous infusion in federal aid” through COVID-19 funding having an impact on the local economy.

“The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a tsunami of cash inflow into our territory, bringing in unprecedented amounts of federal aid estimated at US$175 million,” Lolo wrote to Fono leaders. For example, the Economic Impact Payment, or stimulus payments of US$1,200 for each qualified taxpayer “injected US$34 million directly into the territory’s economy.”

The federal CARES Act funding to local government agencies for COVID-19 related issues “also pumped in millions of dollars to the economy,” he said, noting that other private sector aid programs such as the Payroll Protection Plan “also brought in millions of dollars” to the local economy.

“These payments are still being made as funding programmes extend to the end of December,” he said and made the claim that that “America Samoa’s economy is undergoing unprecedented growth which will spill over to the next fiscal year.”

“Some evidence validating this claim is the surge in the number of containers, depleted vehicle inventories, rise in the purchase of household equipment and furniture, purchase of high priced foods, increases in the number of families spending weekends at hotels, spike in political donations amounts, and the rise in the amount of foreign remittances,” he said….PACNEWS

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