12 May 2010

US official admits enormity of task over American Samoa's economic future

8:44 pm on 12 May 2010

A United States federal official has told lawmakers in American Samoa that asking the US Congress for money to subsidise the local tuna industry is like climbing Mount Everest.

The comment was made by the Director of the Office of Insular Affairs Nikolao Pula at a joint meeting of American Samoa's House and Senate.

Pula is in the territory with staff of the US Department of Commerce to present a set of estimates of the major components of gross domestic product for American Samoa.

He was asked questions by Fono members regarding the economic future of American Samoa especially in light of the closure of one of the territory's two canneries and the uncertain future of the other.

Pula admitted they haven't been sucessful in getting assistance for the territory's plight.

"And we somehow have to come together and make some tough decisions if the other cannery leaves. You know, we helped out trying to get the fibre-optic cable here. And it got here. so we were hoping to get a couple of call centres. That hasn't materialised I think maybe the Governor and his people in the administration are working on something."

Nikolao Pula says the territory shouldn't lose hope.