Due to a notably remote location, limited transportation, and a devastating proneness to natural disasters, the American Samoan economy is particularly and uniquely vulnerable when compared to other economies around the world. In fact, while the unemployment rate in the continental United States is 3.5%, the Samoan rate is a staggering 29.8%. This struggle is reflected in the historical lack of access and public funding for education and medical support.
However, the US Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs, the federal branch dedicated to carrying out the government’s responsibilities to the US territories, recently announced that they will provide $26.6 million in funding to American Samoa. The funding will be available as part of the fiscal year 2022 government operations. It was made available through Congressional action in Washington as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022. The $26.6 million will be utilized in several ways. The American Samoan government is set to receive $13 million, American Samoa Community College will receive $1.6 million, and the High Court of American Samoa will receive $457,200. In addition, the Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital, Samoa’s only hospital, is to receive a notable $11.6 million.
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs, Keone Nakoa, stated that “[w]e are pleased to provide this support for critical public services for the people of American Samoa.” She also thanked Congress for their additional and much-needed support of American Samoa’s one hospital.
Each year Congress approves and provides funding for America Samoa and all the other US territories. This newly approved funding will increase the amount that goes to the vitally important Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital. The funding is intended to improve American Samoa’s public services by supporting public schools, higher education, the local judicial system, and healthcare.