Earlier this week, House Floor Leader Sabino Anastacio cautioned leaders not to meet with the delegation or it would “send a wrong signal to our diplomatic partner (Taiwan).”
Outspoken proponent of diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China, Delegate Joel Toribiong in response to Anastacio’s caution said “I believe in a one-China policy” but this is a goodwill trip and has no specific agenda other than to meet with Palau’s top leaders and express their interest in establishing diplomatic relations.
Palau needs a long term program to increase productivity and develop its lifestyle tourism to achieve economic sustainability. This was an assessment by Dr. Don Townsend, an Australian consultant for Asian Development Bank. Dr. Townsend was the lead consultant of SAGRIC Int'l Group that in 1993-94 did the first phase of the Palau's 20/20 National Master Plan under the National Master Plan Task Force. The plan was approved with the Economic Development Plan (EDP) for implementation of Compact of Free Association.
Townsend is back in Palau to help one consultant compacy find someone in Palau to fill the position of a national advisor for the 2007-09 ADB funded study. The study is intended to update Policies and Plans for Palau 2009-2020 (PPP-2020) for use by the Compact Review Commission in its reviewing of the Compact in preparation for hte upcoming negotiation with the U.S. The ADB funded study according to Townsend will focus on a master development plan that will address issues and concerns on Palau economic and investment policy, budget management, infrastructure and services, and ways and means on how the Palau government may be able to sustain all this. (Tia Belau, June 22-28, 2007)
Minister of Community and Cultural Affairs Alexander Merep has sought permission from the traditional leaders of Koror during the House of Traditional Leaders meeting for him to run for Congress next year as Delegate of Koror. "I know to be effective, I need the full support of the community, traditional leaders, state government and state legislature to be able to wrok with them, and address the needs of Koror," Merep said. He will certainly go head to head with current Del. Joel Toribiong. However, there are reports that Toribiong may be eyeing a run for the senate next year.
R&D Minister Fritz Koshiba, has also mentioned publically, though unofficially that he is a candidate for a Senate seat in next year's election. That makes two members of Remengesau's cabinet going for congressional seat next term.
Busy with Belau Games so blogging will be more sporadic.
However, I can't help but noticing that this post (here) has attracted the most number of comments with over 200 (205 to be exact as of this writing) since this weblog started almost three and half years ago. Now, on to your thoughts?
According the members of the Senate Reapportionment Commission, the senators in the Olbiil Era Kelulau will definitely be increased to between 11 - 15 members. However, they have yet decided whether the Senate will remain an at-large representation or return to districting as in hte first to the fourth Seante which was based on regional districts. The Commission should be coming out with its final report on July 1, 2007.
With the OEK proposing to increase the salary of the President's cabinet ministers to $45,000, our neighbor island of Guam is going to cut pay to the government workers. Over 8,000 GovGuam workers pay will be reduced by 10 hours per pay preiod while political appointees making over $45,000 will have their salary cut by 10 percent.
The monthly costs for electricity usage at the new Capitol building in Melkeok has increased dramatically since the government officially relocated to Ngerulmud in October of last year...the electricity cost of in October reached $25,000, then rose sharply to $48,638 in November, and $51,353 for December. January stood at $58,539.36, February at $60,627.08, $51,627.08 in March, and $56,256.38 for April.
The Office of Inspector General of the Department of Interior has cited several multi-million dollar projects funded by Compact funds that didn't enahnce the government's long-term economic growth. " We were told that the appropriation made to state governments may have contributed more to subsidizing the state wage costs than they did to addressing long-term economic development needs," says a report by Ben Privitt, Insular Area Filed Liaison to David Cohen, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs in January 2006. Privitt's assessment of Palau's progress in implementing the Compact of Free Association is in response to a request by the Paublic Auditor in Palau.
From Compact inception on Oct. 1, 1994 through Sept. 30, 2005, 11 years, Palau has received and used a least $285 million in Compact direct funding for government operations and capital improvement, energy production, and communication development projects, the report stated. However, Palau failed to fully realize one of the three major objectives of the Compact, which is to advance economic development and achieve self sufficiency. The two other objectives; to secure self-government and to assure certain national security objectives for Palau and the US, have been achieved. “Compact Capital Account monies were intended to assist Palau in its efforts to advance economic development through the construction and or major repair of capital infrastructure. However, the Palau National Congress appropriated Compact monies for certain projects that did not stimulate the economy and or address long-term economic development needs,” the report said, adding that “there is no assurance that value was relieved for the monies expended.” (Island Times, Friday, June 8, 2007)
Governor Jackson Ngiraingas in his letter dated May 30 to the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) is requesting for an immediate investigation on Chief Obak Isao Singeo, the highest ranking traditional chief of Peleliu, and other prominent individuals for numerous violation of the law in connection with the island lease deals and other issues. These include a copy of an agreement entered into between Ngerdelolk Village, represented herin by Chief Obak, Chief Iderrech, Chief Itpik, Chief Idesiar (refered to as "owner") and Kuniwo Nakamura and Temmy Shmull (referred to as "users") regarding clearing and beautification activities at Ngedebus Island to attract investors. Another copy is a petition signed by 203 citizens of Peleliu opposing the Agreement. He said that around 700 signatures had been gathered. Ngiraingas, in a strongly worded statement, told Walton that if the latter decides not to take immediate action to pursue this matter, he might use the same evidence against the Special Prosecutor.(Palau Horizon, June 5-7, 2007)
The senate leadership has apparently changed its mind about replacing Sen. Alan Seid as Floor Leader, choosing instead not to "cause an upheaval" in the words of one senator. When asked about the rumor Senator Asanuma said the senators have been discussing the stability of the Senate and "we don't put too much emphasis on election of officers." The "report is quite untrue" Sen. Asanuma added. (Island Times, June 1, 2007)
An audit by the Office of the Public Auditor (OPA) showed that there were a number of problems and deficiencies involving the administration of the state funds...Melkeok State did not prepare and submit an annual financial report and a performance report in fiscal years 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2005 which is in violation of the law.
The audit report found that an employee of the state recieved $48,903.50 in checks over a period of four years which was supposedly used for car rental, contingency, food items without proper supporting documents.
Another deficiency detected was that a high ranking state official reportedly recieved $71,456.81 in checks over the period of four years for travel and contingency expenses without proper supporting documents.
Another high ranking official also recieved $27,294 in contingency expenses over the same period without proper supporting documents.
The audit also detected that a total of $42,515.32 in fiscal years 2001, 2002, and 2003 of expenditures are without proper supporting documents.
$26,684 incurred bank overdraft because the state did not perform monthly bank reconciliation resulting from issuing check from an account with insufficient fund.
The report also stated that Melkeok State Government did not maintain adequate documentationto account for the acquisition, inventory, and desposition of fixed assets.
The state did not follow competitive bidding requirements in the procurement of construction services and equipment.
The public auditor also identified $226,767.81 of withdrawals from the state's savings account for which no documented evidence was provided to support their deposits in the state's checking or other bank accounts.
The OPA recommended that the Office of the Attorney General or the Office of te Special Prosecutor investigate unsubstantiated disbursements to a state employee or officials and take corrective action for any misconduct involving state funds.
An SB 7-193(in last Wednesday's session, Asanuma said for the record that HB has signed the original as one of the bill's sponsor) by Santy Asanuma and Hokkons Baules proposes to provide a non-taxable cost of living allowance of $25 per pay period for low income wage earners. Sen. Asanuma has said that he has urged congress to to look into the petition of the civil service employees to raise their salary as against the move to increase the base salary of the President, Vice President, and the ministers.
Meanwhile Senate President Surangel Whipps has disclosed that he is thinking about introducing a bill that set a $5 per hour minimum wage for government workers. At present, government workers are recieving a minimum of $2.87 per hour.