Government of the Federated States of Micronesia

Round up

PALIKIR, Pohnpei (FSM Information Service): February 2000 - The Second Special Session of the 11th Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia has quit sine die, but not before overriding the President's veto, cutting his supplemental budget, rejecting many board nominations and making allottee changes.

Last year, President Leo A. Falcam vetoed a public project bill because of a legal deficiency. Congress wasted no time overriding that veto after hearing that new budget forecasts from the President's Office revealed enough money to cover the projects.

The override will give Chuuk State-wide projects $100,000. It will also give Chuuk State election district numbers one through five money as follows: Number one will receive $650,000; number two, $650,000; number three, $650,000; number four, $650,000; and number five, $300,000.

Pohnpei State election district numbers one through three will receive apportionments as follows: Number one will get $750,000; number two, $650,000, and number three, $600,000.

Yap State will get $1 million, and Kosrae, $750,000.

President Falcam submitted to the special session a $1.6 million-plus supplemental budget only to see the Congress cut it by about $400,000. Among the cuts to the supplemental requests were Department of Justice requests for $12,000 to retain a law firm in Taiwan to collect damages against Ting Hong, $27,000 to reimburse the department for transferred funds, and $12,000 to establish a lawyer-in-training program.

The Congress felt the requests did not meet the criteria for a supplement budget.

The Congressional knife reached to Guam where no money was appropriated to renovate the FSM Consulate's house. The Congress wants to see if it can be sold. The Congress did give the Consulate General rent, for the house is in no condition to be inhabited.

The President's travel money also got axed from $264,600 to about $97,000. The Congress said the remaining requests should be brought to them in May.

The President did get his $10,000 request for the FSM's voluntary contribution to the International Committee of the Red Cross and $ 1 0,000 for the nation's contribution to the Georgetown Initiative, which promotes awareness of the Micronesian Region.

The President's Information Office received $21,660 to hire a webmaster and to purchase the appropriate hardware and software to establish a website. The PIO also received $I 5,000 to purchase a new copier.

The President's Office received $15,000 for its representation fund.

The President's extension of the Early Retirement Program received the green light from the Congress, and the Public Auditor received more flexibility to perform audits.

Nominations to various boards became victims of the Congress's desire to see new blood at the helms as the FSM goes into the "New Millennium".

Bryan Isaac, M.D., will sit on the College of Micronesia-FSM Board of Regents representing the national government, and Podis Pedrus will represent Pohnpei State. Other nominations were deferred until May.

The Congress approved Bellarmine Ioanis to represent Pohnpei State on the Social Security Board of Directors; Nena Ned will represent Kosrae State, and Bernes Reselap, Chuuk State.

The Micronesian Maritime Authority Board of Directors will see Pohnpei Port Authority General Manager Akillino Susaia take a seat, but he will be alone for a while. Former board members Gerson Jackson, Johnny Killion and Patrick Mackenzie were not approved. The Congress indicated it wants new people on the nation' boards.

Midion Neth's nomination to be Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Social Affairs was deferred and public hearings will be scheduled in March.

The position of deputy secretary of the Department of Finance, which received favorable reporting out of committee, was surgically removed during the second reading on the floor.

Congress approved fishing agreements with the Micronesian Maritime Authority with four companies: the Pacific Tuna Industry, Inc., Nuigini Fishing Company, Ltd., Pohnpei Commercial Tuna Operators Association, and Fisheries Corporation Foundation.

The Congress did spread what will likely be good news for Quarantine workers, the Postal Service, Customs, and the public in general, when it granted recovery of overtime costs for quarantine people working beyond normal work hours, and when it made goods received in the mail valued up to $200 duty exempt.

The duty exemption was done to speed up processing of packages received in Customs and to only tax items that would at least pay for the cost of taxing them.

However, the concept of "corportizing" the FSM Postal System will be discussed again in May.

A pubic law, PL 10-120, received a change of allottee of certain funds appropriated for Southern Namoneas in Chuuk State. A previous appropriation of $700,000 for social and economic projects was reduced by $20,000 to fund a new line items the Southern Namoneas Development Authority.

Furthermore this public law now requires that at the beginning of each quarter, the Secretary of Finance and Administration, or the Secretary's designee, will provide the representative of Southern Narnoneas in Congress a status report describing the investment status of the fund and changes in balances. Also included in this report will be nominal and real rate of returns on the investment.

Another change Congress made in south Chuuk concerned funds for a previously appropriated sub-state dock in the Mortlocks.

The original $100,000 was reduced to $40,000, and $40,000 was appropriated to install electrical power lines. Another $20,000 was appropriated for operating and renovating the Satawan mayoral office.

In Chuuk State's Northwest region, the Pattiw Authority became the new allottee of previously appropriated funds. Congress, also, consolidated all remaining funds appropriated in the Northwest region to permit enough money for at least one more project. The Northwest Project Coordinator will be the allottee.

In responding to President Falcam's funding request for public state improvement projects, the Congress gave out $2.75 million, but the Congress required the money to be placed in a PSIP Fund to be used by the four states.

The states will decide use and apportionment of the funds, but the President is required to give Congress notice of any agreement he has reached with the states concerning the apportionment and use of the fund.

The President then must tell Congress of the agreements no later than 30 days after the agreements have been reached.

Of the total in the fund, Congress assigned $750,000 to regional projects with Chuuk receiving $250,000; Pohnpei, $250,000; Yap, $125,000; and Kosrae, $125,000.

The President is the allottee of the PSIP Fund.

A law concerning land acquisition in Kosrae State was modified to permit $75,000 to go to dry docking facilities, supplies, and operations.

Furthermore, Congress made it politer for itself to just say "no" to nominees by amending Title 2 of the FSM Code. Now, if a nomination remains in congress more than 90 days, or if Congress fails to act on a nomination during two consecutive sessions, the nomination will be deemed rejected. The session receiving the nomination will not be counted as one of the two consecutive sessions.

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