FSM Congress News, May 18, 2004
PALIKIR, Pohnpei (FSM Congress): May 18, 2004 - The standing committees are taking advantage of the short break from plenary to conduct their public hearings.
The break, from yesterday, May 17, to May 20, allows the committees to concentrate their work on the proposed budget for fiscal year 2005.
One of these hearings was yesterday's hearing before the Committee on Health, Education and Social Affairs (HESA), in which the Department of HESA and other officials from the state and the private schools expressed some disappointment with the FY 2005 budget.
Witnesses discussed their disappointments about the way the Budget Reviewing Committee slashed certain items from their proposed FY 2005 budget without explanation, including funding for private schools, WHO meetings, the Board of Nursing, graduate scholarships, and various other things.
Mr. Miller Benjamin, principal of the Seventh-Day Adventist School in Kolonia, Pohnpei, was rather cool. Instead of stating his disappointment over the elimination of funding provided for non-public schools, including his, he thanked Congress and the national government for providing assistance to the schools for many years. He further said that if the funding could not be provided for the 2005 fiscal year, he would have no other choice but to raise school tuition and cut other programs in order to meet the school needs.
Most witnesses who came to the hearings asked the committee to ask the President to restore their budget in the 2005 proposed budget.
The committee urged the non-public school officials and other witnesses in the hearing to go straight to the President to ask him to restore whatever funding is being proposed to be stripped from them and to explain the impact of the proposed cuts on the various programs.
Today, May 18, the Standing Committees on Resources and Development and External Affairs each held hearings. The R & D met with the Department of Economic Affairs regarding the Department's proposed 2005 budget and in the afternoon, the External Affairs Committee briefly met with relevant offices to discuss a resolution to ratify the amended Compact of Free Association between the United States of America and the Federated States of Micronesia. The hearing regarding the Compact was not completed today. It was re-scheduled to continue on Thursday, May 20, at 1:00 p.m.
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