State-National Leadership Conference Begins in Palikir
Palikir, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services): February 4, 2009 - Day one of the State-National Leadership Conference (SNLC), brought together FSM President Manny Mori, Speaker of the FSM Congress Isaac Figir, Governors of the four FSM States, Speakers of the State Legislatures of Chuuk, Kosrae and Pohnpei, many members of the FSM Congress and State Legislatures, representatives from the US Embassy, and a host of attendees from all levels of federal and state government. The meeting is being facilitated by Mr. Asterio Takesy, former Director of SPREP and held at the Central Conference Facility in Palikir, Pohnpei.
At the opening of the meeting, President Mori gave welcoming remarks and thanked Speaker Figir and the Congress for their strong encouragement and advice in convening this SNLC. He also talked about some of the history of the SNLC when it began in 1979 during the early years of the formation of the nationand stated that this call for the SNLC to come back into existence is focused to look at how to overcome the internal and external challenges that face the nation; some of these being the implementation of compact infrastructure funds, securing necessary government revenues, and securing new economic investments and opportunities.
Speaker Figir also gave opening remarks and reminded everyone of the National Prayer Day that was recently held in November of 2008. Speaker Figir sees this meeting of the SNLC as a chance to continue the focus that was given during the National Prayer Day; to build relationships between the leaders and with the people of the nation.
Governor John Esha, as Governor of the host state, also welcomed participants to this meeting and congratulated the President and Speaker on calling the SNLC back into action. He clearly stated with figures and words, the dramatic increase in economic stimulus that will happen if they can find a way to accelerate the implementation of the infrastructure funds given through the Compact of Free Association with the United States.
The first issue for the group to resolve was to elect a chairperson for this meeting. Governor Robert Weilbacher of Kosrae State nominated President Mori to chair the group. This nomination was seconded and approved by the members. With President Mori at the helm, they adopted the agenda as it was set forth to the group and began discussing the first and most important issue of the conference; infrastructure.
Initially, the President called on Mr. Jack Yakana, Director of the Project Management Unit (PMU) and Mr. Fabian Nimea, Director of the Office of SBOC (Statistics, Budget & Economic Planning, Overseas Development Assistance and Compact Management) to give an overview of the Infrastructure Process and explain how the Executive Branch has clarified the accounting procedure for using grant awards in the financial projection that is given to Congress so that they have the ability to appropriate infrastructure funds that have been awarded by the Office of Interior Affairs (OIA). There were questions from some of the governors as to what exactly the issues are that are holding up the funding and forward movement of projects. Through more discussion, the Chairman suggested that a working group be created that will work tonight on a piece of drafted legislation which would ask Congress to appropriate some $46 million in infrastructure funds from the period of FY07-FY09, to the States. This committee is tasked to come to the meeting tomorrow morning (2-5-09) and present a new draft of legislation that the four states and the national government will agree to. The FSM Attorney General is the chairperson for this small working group.
The SNLC is scheduled to meet all day on Thursday, February 5th and half-day on Friday, February 6th, to cover this issue and several others, including matching fund projects, air/sea transportation issues, Compact five-year review, tax regime reform, foreign investment, revenue measures, and Social Security.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.fsmpio.fm/