8 Feb 2006

American Samoa legislator questions hospital contingency funds

11:30 am on 8 February 2006

American Samoa's House of Representatives has approved a bill authorizing the American Samoa Governemnt to borrow ten million US dollars from the territory's Retirement Fund to pay off debts for the LBJ Hospital.

The House did not make any amendments to the legislation.

Tualauta representative Falema'o Pili raised objections regarding the allocation in the bill for contingency liabilities.

He said that lawmakers must first be clear on how this money will be spent before approving the legislation.

The House has not held a hearing on the bill or questioned hospital officials about the use of the loan.

Rep. Pili said he supports the loan bill but approving the contingency without knowing what the contingencies are, is like handing the hospital a blank cheque.

"We need to be more definitive on it because you're talking about three point two million dollars worth of contingency. So it needs to be identified as to how the money is supposed to be spent. This bill is going to become law and you need to have the contingency identified."

Meanwhile Senate President Lolo Letalu Moliga says the Senate will not be rushed into making a decision on the loan bill without getting the full picture on how the proceeds will be spent.

LBJ Hospital officials will testify on the bill in the Senate tomorrow.