Update on Disaster Relief Funding for Declaration of Emergency
Palikir, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services): January 8, 2009 - Since President Mori declared a state of emergency on December 29th, 2008, the National and State Governments have been mobilizing resources to provide emergency aid and assessment teams to the damaged areas of the four states of the FSM.
Based on the FSM Constitution, once the President declares a national state of emergency, he can decree appropriated funds from the national government and pool them together to address the needs of the emergency. So far, President Mori has decreed $300,000 from the Executive Branch. This money was made available to fund the initial trips of the FSS Micronesia to Chuuk State and the FSS Independence to Yap State, in which both patrol boats were loaded with food supplies and assessment teams.
In addition to the money that President Mori has decreed, our Development Partners have begun answering the call for assistance. The Embassy of the People's Republic of China responded to the President's appeal for assistance and in an exchange of letters signed on December 29th, 2008, $100,000 was provided to help the FSM deal with the damage caused by tidal surges in all four states. The Chinese Red Cross has also donated $30,000 to be used to assist in the disaster relief. The President intends to tap an initial $50,000 from the FSM-US Disaster Assistance Emergency Fund (DAEF), and will be requesting the concurrence of the current US Chief of Mission to receive a total of $100,000 from this fund to help address the emergency needs. The US Government has already dispatched FEMA and USAID teams, who are already on the ground with the Preliminary Damage Assessment Teams on the patrol boats in Yap and Chuuk and on the MS Caroline Voyager in Pohnpei's outer islands, and they will be providing the usual assistance that the US has provided during previous disasters. The Australian Government has verbally committed cash and food aid for the FSM and our Japanese Partners are awaiting statistics from the assessment teams before offering assistance.
To complement the funding from our donor partners, the President called a special session of Congress to be convened on January 5th, 2009 and offered a repackaged bill to provide financial support for the disaster in place of Congressional Act No. 15-75 which appropriated $1.4 million for public projects and programs in the States. The President's rationale, as spelled out in a letter from President Mori to The Honorable Isasc V. Figir dated December 31st, was to "afford top priority to responding to the emergency by unifying our efforts with the use of limited resources." The President stated that this veto will "free up government resources that are needed to cover financing of the emergency plan." On Tuesday, January 6th, the Congress decided to override the President's veto of Congressional Act 15-75 and, as explained in a press release from Congress (No. 02-09), the override provides President Mori the $1.4 million for the emergency. Although this may seem contradictory, in fact, as stated in the Congress press release and in the Ways and Means Committee report "the President under the state of emergency is free to deal with the current emergency in any way he sees fit with the funds made available by this bill." The news release goes further to say that "Congress's override would therefore enable immediate funding in the amount of $1.4 million for President Mori to address the declared state of emergency in the four states." With this additional funding made available by Congress, President Mori has secured the majority of the funds needed to implement the plan of the National Emergency Task Force, which has a projected budget of $2.3 million for the emergency and relief portions of aid for the entire relief package at this point in the assessment of the situation. Given all the funding sources, President Mori foresees that he will go back to Congress during their regular session in January and ask for an estimated $700,000 to be appropriated to fund the rest of the disaster relief package.
For further information on this release, please contact:
FSM Office of the President Public Information: Press, Radio, Video P.O Box 34 Palikir Station, Pohnpei, FM 96941 Tel.: (691) 320-2548/2092 Fax.: (691) 320-4356 e-mail: email@example.com http://www.fsmpio.fm/