Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia

Executive submits Budget for FY 2010 sans compact sectors

Palikir, Pohnpei (FSM Congress): May 25, 2009 - Speaker Isaac V. Figir of the Sixteenth Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia issued a strong statement during today's session, in response to the proposed budget bill for the national government for fiscal year 2010.

A budget bill, unprecedented in the history of the Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia, was received at the Office of the Speaker on May 22, 2009, containing only those areas of the 2010 National Government Budget funded by local revenues.

The bill proposes the appropriation of $30,459,405 to fund the operations of the three branches, the agencies, the various programs, grants, subsidies and contributions of the FSM national government for upcoming fiscal year 2010 which begins on October 1, 2009.

The current national government budget overview as provided by the Office of Statistics, Budget, Overseas Development Assistance and Compact Management (SBOC) showed that 77% of the budget is from domestic sources with the remaining 20% plus, from the amended Compact.

While the bill covers the administrative aspects of the national governments operation, absent are those areas supported by foreign assistance, especially programs that fall under the scope of the Compact of Free Association with the United States of America.

According to the transmittal letter, the rationale behind the bill is that "foreign financial assistance is to be disbursed, not by a Congressional appropriation, but by the terms or special nature of the assistance."

The letter referenced the amended Compact and that pursuant to it, "FSM has unequivocal obligation to conform to the provisions of the amended Compact and subsidiary agreements.

"Hence, all laws in the FSM, including budget appropriation act, must be in harmony with the treaty," the letter concluded.

The intent of the bill elicited a strong statement from Speaker Isaac V. Figir, who in this mornings' session went on record to say that the FSM will not compromise its sovereignty for money. His statement in its entirety is as follows:

The Executive Branch has just transmitted to Congress a draft FY 2010 budget bill. According to that bill, Congress has the power to appropriate only revenues, no foreign assistance and no Compact funds. This is a position by the Executive that a enormous significance.

This is also a position that Congress cannot condone. This means that everything that Congress has done for the past 30 years, ever since we established constitutional government, was wrong. To say that Congress can only appropriate local revenues takes us back to the days of the Trust Territory.

Congress represents the people of the FSM. The constitutional mandate of Congress is to control the purse string of the nation on behalf of the people. Yet, the Executive now tells us foreign donors do not want us to control the spending of their funds. That cannot be. To me, donor to the FSM will think twice about giving assistance to the FSM if they knew that the people of the FSM has no say in how the money will be used.

The position of the Executive represents the most egregious attempt at limiting the power of Congress since this country began. It is un-democratic and does not make any sense.

I urge the Executive to think again. And if there are any foreign donors out there who think that the people of the FSM should not have any say in how their funds should be spent, I urge them to take their money elsewhere. This is a question of the sovereignty of this nation. We will not compromise our sovereignty for some money.

And shame to anyone in this government who would be inclined to do so.

When Speaker Figir completed his statement several members nodded in accord and associated themselves with his statement, while others proposed measures to further clarify the scope of foreign assistances.

Chairman Peter Sitan of the Congressional Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations said Speaker Figir's statement had touched most members. He personally associated himself with the Speaker's statement and went on to say that the position the Executive has taken will have trickle down effects which will seriously impact the state governments who derive more than 50% of their funds from outside sources.

According to Chairman Sitan, for the Executive to "think that legislative bodies of the states don't have authority over funding for their people, has a potetional to be a serious problem."

Following the statements, Congress adjourned the session to continue its public hearings with various entities of the national government.

For further information on this release, please contact:

Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia
Public Information Office
P.O Box PS-3
Palikir Station, Pohnpei, FM 96941
Tel.: (691) 320-2324/2325
Fax.: (691) 320-5122