Kosrae Proposes Slim $9.4 Million Operating Budget

by Olivier Wortel

KOSRAE, FSM (Marianas Variety): July 2, 2003 - Gov. Rensley Sigrah has released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2004. It is the first budget to come under the performance-based and financially diminished budgeting framework of Compact II.

Total recommended expenditures for government operations in 2004 amount to $9,415,636, a six percent decrease from the current fiscal year.

The executive branch has proposed to operate on $7,143,398, nearly $440,000 less than current spending, and representing 76 percent of the total budget for FY 2004.

The legislative branch will have an operating budget of $851,839 - 9 percent of the overall budget - while the judiciary branch will receive $425,559 - 5 percent of the total budget. Both represent slight increases from current fiscal year spending.

Government agencies such as the Kosrae Broadcast Authority, the Election Commission, the Development Review Commission, the Port Authority, the Land Commission, the Parole Board, the Sport Council, the Scholarship Board, the Utility Authority, and the Visitors Bureau will share the brunt of the reduced budget. They will operate on funding totaling $994,840, nearly 20 percent less than FY 2003.

The $626,566 decrease in the government operating budget from FY 2003 to proposed FY 2004 will come at the sacrifice of certain annual grants and subsidies normally allocated to non-government, semi-government, and municipal government entities.

"I've had to forego essential requests from the municipal governments, especially because we can no longer afford to place them in our budget," said Sigrah.

The 2004 budget proposal also outlines the executive's capital and infrastructure development plans - with a budget of $2,850,000 - for the state, following priority areas identified under the Kosrae State Action Plan and the Public Sector Investment Program.

The governor proposed $102,000 for power plant improvements at Kosrae Utility Authority. "Major overhauling works" will be performed on the two generators at the diesel-fueled power plant, as well as a proposed project to erect power distribution lines to the inner farm roads of the island.

For road development, $760,000 has been proposed. This includes maintenance on the existing 30 miles of road, constructing a drainage system, and completing the final four miles of the island circumferential road. There is also a plan to widen the causeway going to Lelu island to accommodate pedestrians.

There will be $610,000 for classroom construction to improve the student-teacher ratio to 1-25, help with over flooding during heavy rainfall, accommodate the increase in the population, and build concrete structures.

For medical equipment acquisition $279,000 has been allotted to "ensure an acceptable standard of medical services and to reduce the reliance of off-island secondary health care."

The governor also proposed the following:

  • $203,000 for the housing renovation loan improvement program to help fund the more than seventy pending loan requests for home improvement.

  • $152,000 for agriculture production and marketing programs, to be channeled toward farming incentives, the tissue culture facility, expanded livestock production, and the diversification and expansion of marketing into other regions.

  • $230,000 for marine resources development, mainly to fund the Mangrove Crab Project that the state has invested heavily in, both for subsistence and commercial purposes.

  • $185,000 for water and waste water improvement, to remedy the "suffering from skin diseases caused by untreated water," and to provide maintenance for waste water systems.