23 Jan 2006

American Samoan senator objects to government plane status

2:15 pm on 23 January 2006

The American Samoa Manu'a Senator, Sega Atoe, says the name of the Manu'a islands should not be associated with the governor's aircraft.

Senator Sega said that the aircraft had been purchased by the governor for use by the American Samoan government and he did not feel it was correct to say that it was Manu'a's aircraft.

He made the comment during a hearing of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on spending on the aircraft.

The governor's legal counsel said the bill appropriating half a million dollars to stabilise transportation services to Manu'a gave the governor the discretion to expend the funds in a manner he saw fit as long as it was within the scope of maintaining transportation services for Manu'a.

Senate President Lolo Letalu Moliga said if the purpose of the aircraft was to provide transportation for Manu'a then it should be used for that purpose only and other stated uses of the aircraft such as marine surveillance should be disregarded.

Lawmakers who approved the 500,000 US dollar appropriation for Manu'a transportation services have repeatedly said that they had no intention of using the money to buy an aircraft.

Several senators asked about the condition of the aircraft and whether it was airworthy.

None of the witnesses were able to verify if the aircraft was certified by the Federal Aviation Administration.