14 Apr 2005

Explanation given for missing hurricane insurance money in American Samoa

10:18 am on 14 April 2005

The manager of American Samoa's Office for Fiscal Reform, Jack Kachmarik, has given an explanation of why four million US dollars is missing from the Hurricane Val Insurance settlement.

Mr Kachmarik explains that on his recommendation Governor Togiola Tulafono authorised him to draw the money down.

The governor told them to use it, and what was matched locally in assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, for the March 2003 floods and Cyclone Heta last year.

Under the FEMA program the territorial government must pay costs up front and then seek reimbursement.

FEMA only reimburses 90 per cent.

Mr Kachmarik pointed out that the governor had submitted legislation to appropriate local match for these disasters however the Fono did not approve the legislation.

He says that the government needed to repair school and other government facilities, pay overtime costs incurred during the disaster, and to cover all other costs for recovery.

Mr Kachmarik says if the government had not used the insurance monies, the FEMA program would have come to a grinding halt.