Government of the Federated States of Micronesia

Vice President Alik and Governor Ehsa Attend the Annual Meetings of SPC in Tonga

Palikir, Pohnpei (FSM Department of Foreign Affairs): October 28, 2009 - The Honorable Vice President Alik L. Alik led a delegation to the Kingdom of Tonga to attend the annual meetings of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC). The week started with the 39th Meeting of the Committee of Representatives of Governments and Administrations, and FSM was represented by Mr. Ricky F. Cantero, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Pacific Affairs of the FSM Department of Foreign Affairs. Then, later in the week, the 6th Conference of the Pacific Community began, and the entire delegation, along with the Vice President joined the conference. The meetings together are commonly referred to as the annual meetings of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, and provide an opportunity for member countries to gather and discuss ways to strengthen the operations, work programs, and mandate of the Secretariat, with the overarching aim of providing better service delivery to its members.

The theme of the meeting was "Maximizing Impacts of Regional Programs at National Levels". Many member countries felt that the theme reflected their aspirations as it echoed real expectations of the organization and focused on the concept of service delivery of regional programs to compliment national development efforts.

Among the many important issues that were discussed in the meeting, the major ones were the Joint Country Strategy, which essentially defines the development relationship between the Secretariat and its member countries, the Regional Institutional Framework, which reflected Forum Leaders' desire to amalgamate various regional organizations and their programs into SPC, and sustainable financing of the organization, with member countries expressing the need to ensure the continued financial sustainability of the Secretariat to enable effective fulfillment of its mandate and work programs. Another issue that was of great interest to the FSM, as host of a SPC Regional Office in Pohnpei, was the decentralization of the Secretariat. Towards this end, Vice President Alik reiterated the FSM's commitment to our regional process, to the Pacific Community, and reaffirmed the FSM's strong desire to see the strengthening of the Pohnpei Office to better provide service delivery to its Northern Pacific-based members, which, among other, includes Palau, Marshall Islands, Guam, and the CNMI. He further indicated that the FSM stands ready to work with members and the Secretariat to face the various challenges that come with decentralization.

The conference noted the positive developments currently being undertaken by the FSM and its other national and state stakeholders to fulfill its obligations as host of a SPC Regional Office. Paramount to this effort was the identification and acquisition of a land parcel required for the construction of a permanent office space for the SPC Pohnpei Office, as envisioned in the proposed Micronesian Village project. The underlying aim of the project is to provide the accommodation requirements for regional and international organizations currently based in Pohnpei (i.e. SPC) and those organizations with interest to be based in Pohnpei. As chairman of the committee established to undertake the implementation of this project, Vice President Alik expressed that the project would provide many benefits and opportunities for the FSM, would further solidify SPC's presence in the North Pacific, and would reinforce its role as the premier technical organization in the Pacific region.

As a member of the delegation to the meetings, Pohnpei State Governor John Ehsa was provided the opportunity to address the conference to which he reaffirmed his support for SPC and the Micronesian Village Project. He further confirmed the availability of a land parcel in Pohnpei that is needed to ensure the project's implementation. The property referenced was the Botanical Garden area, which is centrally located in Kolonia Town with close proximity to other development amenities, such as hotels, restaurants, banks, recreation areas, and educational institutions. Governor Ehsa also confirmed his eagerness to progress the implementation of the project as it would provide the necessary conditions to enable the SPC Pohnpei Office to strengthen its mandate in service-delivery. The project was envisioned not only to provide accommodation needs for regional and international organizations, but also to house an international standard conference center to enable the FSM and Pohnpei State to effectively host regional meetings.

In this connection, the Secretariat confirmed to provide the technical assistance and resources required to assist FSM's effort to progress the project and agreed to field a professional architect to visit Pohnpei to consult, organize and develop a design brief in December of 2009. The brief is expected to be completed in January 2010. Vice President Alik and Governor Ehsa both conveyed their appreciation for SPC's assistance to the FSM.

En route back to Pohnpei through Fiji, Vice President Alik and Governor Ehsa took the opportunity to meet with FSM students currently studying in Fiji and shared words of encouragement for them to excel in their studies. Governor Ehsa also took the opportunity in Fiji to meet with officials from the Fiji Islands Trade and Investment Bureau to discuss Fiji's best practices on economic development initiatives.

The other delegation member who attended the meetings was Mr. Samson Pretrick, FSM Ambassador to Fiji.

The outcomes of the SPC Meetings may be obtained at the Department of Foreign Affairs by calling (691) 320-2613.

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