22 September 2009

American Samoa Constitutional Review Begins


(UTULEI) – Governor Togiola T.A.Tulafono today officially opened the American Samoa Constitutional Convention Review Office at the Lumana’i Building in Fagatogo.

In a brief ceremony attended by Lieutenant Governor Faoa A. Sunia, Senate President Gaoteote Palaie Tofau, House Speaker Savali Talavou Ale, Eastern District Governor Gaoteote Tapatonu, Manua’a District Governor Misaalefua J. Hudson, cabinet members and traditional leaders, Governor Togiola said the opening of the American Samoa Constitutional Convention review Office is a momentous occasion for the people of the Territory it is the start of “the work that will determine our road to the future.”

The following is the official text of Governor Togiola’s speech at the opening:


September 17, 2009
Lumana’i Building, Fagatogo

In this year, in the opening of this office, to guide the way for us as we progress towards the convention hearing and the deliberations over our constitution, this is a momentous day and a momentous occasion for our people and our country because today we are beginning the work that will determine our road to the future.

What are we to do from this point forward? Our forefathers handed to us a government that we have lived under for 109 years, in comfort and in good relations, since 1947 when we were allowed the first legislation to determine the laws that guide our government and our people and through 1977, when we inaugurated our first governor and lieutenant governor.

The way was paved towards self determination and more independence for our own people. Since 1977 the deterioration of self determination has begun, as more and more of the authority that was given to us is once again taken away bit by bit, piece by piece and there is more to come.

We’ve been told that it’s coming. Now the decision as we go forward to this constitutional deliberation is: What are we to do?

Do we abandon our lives as Samoans and go as full citizenship of the US, and live as US citizens, with the freedom that is accorded to that blessing or do we maintain the lives as Samoans in our culture, language, and people? It’s not going to be an easy decision; it’s going to be one of the most difficult things we have to do, for this decision is going to be the road map for the future generations of our people.

So for those of you who will be working here, and all of you who will be delegates in this Constitutional Convention, I want everyone to think very hard about what’s coming to us. It’s not going to be easy. It will be the most significant step that we will have to take since we first adopted our constitution in the 1960s.

Ladies and gentleman,

It’s my pleasure to open this office today and to begin the work towards our self determination in the constitutional convention that will be coming in the later months of the year.

I want to thank the Lieutenant Governor, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House, and all the directors and all of you who are here, the District Governors and everyone who has given time to participate this morning, in the opening of this office.

I want to thank the “tapuaiga” in our territory today, and I hope that it is only a matter of time when I will continue to call this place a territory, and we will call it something more significant than just a territory of another nation.

16 September 2009

Dutch Caribbean-Scandanavian Tax Agreements

The Nordic countries today signed information-exchange treaties on taxation with Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles. The new agreements are part of a campaign led by the Nordic Council of Ministers to encourage greater efforts to prevent international tax evasion. The information was released by Norden, the official co-operation organisation in the Nordic region.

The treaties provide the tax authorities with access to all information about citizens who try to avoid paying tax on income and capital investments and who have undeclared assets in their home countries. The information covered includes details of the real ownership of companies, i.e. throughout the entire ownership chain, details of the founders, trustees and beneficiaries of trusts and information held by banks and financial institutions.

The treaties were signed at ceremonies today at the Danish (Aruba) and Finnish (Netherlands Antilles) embassies in Paris. They are part of a major ongoing project by the Council of Ministers and similar deals have already been struck with the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands.

Denmark has recently signed agreements with Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Gibraltar, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Other Nordic countries are scheduled to sign agreements with these states soon. The Faroe Islands also signed a treaty with San Marino today. Negotiations continue with many other states.

Such agreements with the Nordic countries are part of the ongoing efforts by Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles to implement the OECD’s standards for transparency and information exchange on tax issues. Aruba has completed 12 such agreements and the Netherlands Antilles 15. As a result, both states are now effectively considered to be compliant with OECD requirements.