6 Apr 2011

American Samoa governor threatens lawmakers with allowance cuts

1:20 pm on 6 April 2011

American Samoa's governor is threatening lawmakers with cuts to their expense allowances, following their decision not to pass his administration's revenue-generating bills.

Togiola Tulafono says the government may struggle to pay public servants next week and has told the directors of government agencies to prepare for layoffs.

Last week, the Fono passed a bill to increase income tax but a bill that would have resulted in hikes to alcohol and cigarette taxes was deferred until the legislature sits again in July.

Our correspondent in Pago Pago, Monica Miller, says the expense allowances are set by law.

"He even said that if they want to fight it then he's prepared to go to court over it but the Fono hasn't joined in the reduction in hours and he had asked them to and they've blocked these bills and so he would resort to cutting their allowances."

Monica Miller says the Senate is expressing doubt over the accuracy of the portrayal of the government's financial position.