FSM Leaders Move on Energy and Food Challenges
Chief Executive Council meeting in Kosrae strengthens resolve toward mitigating spiralling inflation
LELU, Kosrae (Office of SBOC): August 15, 2008 - FSM President Many Mori, Kosrae Governor Robert Weilbacher, Pohnpei Governor John Ehsa, Yap Governor Sebastian Anefal and Chuuk Lt. Governor Elimo Johnson concluded the most recent FSM Chief Executive Council meeting with a clear vision toward heading off the massive challenges the nation faces.
Those challenges include an expanding energy crisis and increase in the overall cost of living brought about by the exhorbitant cost of global oil. Indeed, much of the focus of the Chief Executive Council (CEC) discussions focused on the quickly expanding energy and food costs the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and the rest of the North Pacific region is facing.
Other topics at the CEC included joint FSM-United States Compact budget consultations for fiscal year 2009, Infrastructure sector projects in the nation, the 5th-year US-FSM Compact II review, climate change, the FSM submarine fiber optic cable project and a vocational training center to be established in Pohnpei, FSM in response to the US military build up in Guam.
The Kosrae CEC was the third such meeting of the President and the FSM Governors in 2008, having previously met in Pohnpei (January) and Yap (April). President Emanuel Mori and the Governors have been consistent and more unified as the year has progressed in their collective effort to address the major issues facing the FSM.
Governor Weilbacher of Kosrae led the meeting with a statement that all the principals come to a collective understanding on decisions that would help the FSM "along in its development process." Governor Ehsa of Pohnpei brought greetings from the traditional chiefs of his state and stated that "a very frank discussion" was necessary to overcome the major challenges of the day. Ehsa emphasized a need to focus on the nation's infrastructure development prerogatives.
President Mori set the tone early on fuel and energy, stating that it is one of the most critical issues for the FSM and that "concrete action" would be required. Mori also highlighted the rising cost of both food and fuel, and called for the state governments to follow the lead of the National Government in using surpluses to increase salaries throughout the nation in order to stimulate the economy and offset continuing inflationary trends.
Lt. Governor Elimo Johnson of Chuuk, representing Governor Wesley Simina, noted the seriousness of the issues for the nation, and particularly for Chuuk, which continues to struggle under government reforms and infrastructure development delays.
Governor Anefal of Yap highlighted points on energy and the high cost of imported food, and the reality that the prices for both have "gone beyond the reach of many people."
Anefal and the other leaders continued to discuss climate change, a permanent CEC issue moving forward. The FSM will host its first annual Climate Change Summit in September as part of a more coordinated response on the front line of this global crisis.
FSM Congressmen Paliknoa Welley of Kosrae and Moses Nelson of Chuuk were present on behalf of the Legislative branch.
The outcome of the meeting was a joint communiqué and the passage of five resolutions. The resolutions called for a more efficient mobilization of infrastructure fund and projects in the FSM, compliance in the usage of Compact carry over funds, official recognition and support of the Association of Micronesian Utilities (AMU) and the designation of State energy policy workgroups, the need to develop a national climate change policy closely aligned to the nation's ongoing energy policy development and to move ahead immediately in working with the US to mobilize funds and implement the submarine fiber optic cable project.
The fiber optic project is seen as a major infrastructure initiative that will spur development in the health and education sectors in particular and connect the FSM states to each other and the world through faster internet speeds and transfer of greater amounts of information and technology.
The Office of SBOC once again acted as secretariat and principal facilitator of the event, working closely with its branch office in Kosrae and the Kosrae Office of Planning and Budget.
The next CEC is tentatively scheduled to be held in Chuuk, in the month of October.
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