PALIKIR, Pohnpei (FSM Congress): October 29, 2002 - The lack of FSM citizens graduating from merchant marine academies was discussed in a hearing conducted this morning by the Committee on Transportation and Communication with officials of the FSM Department of Transportation, Communication and Infrastructure at the Central Building in Palikir.
The issue was discussed when the department reported to the committee that a position is still vacant since the person occupying it left to take up a more important position for the national government, that is to run the Fisheries and Maritime Institute (FMI) located in the State of Yap.
A few young men of the FSM have completed levels of training at the FMI, but none has gone to maritime schools in the United State or abroad for the past many years.
During the TTPI period, a few citizens of the area attended schools in the Pacific Islands and the United States. The FMI can teach basic levels of maritime skills and knowledge, but the nation needs to encourage aspiring young people to enroll in maritime schools. This is especially so since FSM is eligible under the Compact of Free Association to nominate candidates to the U.S. merchant marine academies.
The committee urged the department and the department of Health, Education and Social Affairs to look into the matter and make sure there is least one student to attend a maritime school during the next school year.
Other matters raised by the committee included the issue of the department's and the executive branch committing the national governments in borrowing funds and then try to have Congress approves.
The issue raised after officials of the department reported its involvement in coordinating the review of the FSM/ADB Omnibus Infrastructure Development project.
The committee thinks it would be wise for the department or executive branch to have prioritized listing of infrastructure development needs before they look around for those funds. Congress should be informed of these efforts in order to make the necessary review and approval process less problematic. "Better yet, a national plan should be made to organize and prioritize the needs of the nation where officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs and related departments or offices could use as guide lines in accessing funds for our infrastructure development." Floor Leader Joseph J. Urusemal stated.
The problem with charges for harbor piloting in Chuuk was also raised. Witnesses from the department stated that there is a problem with the amount of fees charge to bring vessels in and out of Chuuk harbor causing hardships with the ship officials.
The department officials stated that in the other 3 FSM states, there are only three charges, one to enter the reef, one at the anchorage and one is at port. In Chuuk, there are two at all three places.
The committee urged the department to continue looking for ways to solve that problem.
The Committee on Resources and Development continued its over sight meetings at the Cliff Rainbow Conference Room in Kolonia. The fishing industry in the nation was again brought up as the main topic of the meeting. Officials from the fishing companies, the Departments of Justice and Economic Affairs and other associated offices were brought in to discuss ways in improving the industry.
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