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Governor of American Samoa proposes $466M budget

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 12:00 a.m. HST, Sep 7, 2010

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa » The governor of American Samoa is proposing a $466 million budget for fiscal year 2011, a 39 percent increase over its current budget.

In a letter to the Fono, the U.S. territory's legislature, Gov. Togiola Tulafono attributed the increase to an additional $113 million in federal money following last year's earthquake and tsunami that killed 34 people in American Samoa, the Samoa News reported Thursday.

Tulafono noted the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency is increasing its funding in American Samoa to help repair or replacement public facilities that were damaged or destroyed last Sept. 29.

The American Samoa Power Authority said it will cost around $66 million to restore its properties and facilities, with the utility paying 10 percent, or $6.6 million, and the balance funded by the federal government.

Tulafono said in his letter that it is important to note that stimulus funds made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009 "are separate from the normal annual federal grants appropriations."

"The plan is to accelerate the spending of these revenues to stimulate economic activities, with the expectation that new jobs will be created to supplant fish canning job losses," Tulafono said.

Chicken of the Sea closed its tuna cannery in American Samoa last year, costing the jobs of 2,100 workers. StarKist Co. laid off 380 cannery workers in the territory last month and plans to lay off an additional 400 workers by the end of the year.

Lawmakers must approve the fiscal year 2011 budget by Sept. 30.

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