Am. Samoa Government Office In Hawaii To Remain Open
PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Jan. 30, 2013) – In an unsurprising move, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga is keeping open the American Samoa Government’s office in Hawai’i and yesterday appointed Afimutasi Gus Hannemann as the new director. The office comes under the jurisdiction of the Governor’s Office.
Afimutasi, who was the Senate Liaison for local and federal government affairs during Lolo’s tenure as Senate President from 2005 to 2008, has been the "caretaker" of the Honolulu-based office since the Lolo administration took over the helm of government on Jan. 3.
Afimutasi, the older brother of former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, also led the Lolo transition team for the Hawai’i office last month.
The usefulness of the office was questioned by lawmakers last September during FY 2013 budget hearings, when they said the budget proposal of $349,500 for this office is a huge amount, considering the fact that there were only four employees (not including the director) listed in the budget document, which also states that the director’s annual salary is $50,000.
The biggest expenditure for this office is about $150,000, which covers office and parking space rental for the year.
Lolo had sought out the need to keep this office open, and it was the reason, he said, he appointed only a caretaker from the beginning.
However, in a memo dated Jan. 28, he announced the office would remain open, the appointment of Afimutasi to head this office, and listed twelve mandated functions, which includes facilitating the obtainment of travel visas for residents of Samoan ancestry in need of such assistance.
Samoa News understands this is the first time that specific functions of this office have been made public.
Lolo says the office is there to help obtain proper immigration documents for individuals of Samoan ancestry residing in Hawai’i or residents from American Samoa seeking assistance in addressing their immigration documents.
The office is also to liaison with Samoan communities or individuals requiring assistance from the state of Hawai’i and the City and County of Honolulu — where the office is located.
Moreover, it is to assist residents from American Samoa requiring medical services in Hawai’i; and must collaborate with the LBJ Medical Center in rendering assistance to patients referred from the territory, to ensure that medical appointments are kept.
It is also to provide assistance in locating places for patients to stay while attending to their medical needs during their stay in Hawai’i.
Other mandated functions for the office, which is located about a 10-minute drive from downtown Honolulu are to:
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