7 Mar 2019

American Samoa govt could owe hospital $US13m

4:47 pm on 7 March 2019

A lawmaker in American Samoa says his government could owe more than $US13 million to the territory's hospital.

LBJ hospital, American Samoa

LBJ hospital, American Samoa Photo: RNZI

Larry Sanitoa said the debt stemmed from the commitment that 50 percent of all proceeds collected through a two percent wage tax go to the LBJ Medical Center.

He said the other half had been earmarked for the hospital's off-island medical referral programme.

Mr Sanitoa said his office received reports from the hospital indicating that the government is about $13 million in arrears.

The lawmaker has requested wage tax reports from the Treasury and similar documents from the hospital.

Our correspondent said hospital documents show just over $US2 million from the wage tax was budgeted in 2016 but $US5 million in each of 2017 and 2018.

In past budget hearings, lawmakers have questioned whether Treasury has paid the hospital all of the revenue collected from the wage tax.

The territorial government reconvenes next week following a four-week recess and Mr Sanitoa says he plans to take up the issue by asking for a hearing.