President and Congress talk frankly at start of the Sixth Regular Session
Palikir, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services): January 10, 2013 - The 17th Congress has begun its 6th Regular Session starting on January 7 at the Congress Chamber - its last regular session before the March mid-term election.
After the opening meeting, a Special Committee, chaired by Senator Yosiwo P. George, met with President Manny Mori to inform him and gather other relevant matters that may require action by Congress. With Chairmen George were Senator Joseph J. Urusemal, Senator Roger S. Mori and Senator David W. Panuelo, as committee members.
The President met with the Committee over lunch at one of the local establishment in Kolonia.
After exchanges of cordial greetings, President Mori officially indicated to the Committee that the Executive Branch was ready for the session. Then, more informal discussions followed.
The President and committee Members talked frankly, freely and constructively on a range of topics, focusing more on finalizing arrangements for the proposed 2023 committee. The Committee concurred to the urgency in creating the 2023 committee to recommend actions for boosting economic growth and achieving financial sustainability beyond 2023 - the termination year for the financial assistance under the Amended Compact with the United States. The Leaders generally agreed to move ahead in support of having the committee with State Governments and National Government representations. It was recalled that during the development partners meeting in November, many development partners had expressed interest to assist in the task of such committee.
Among the first topics, the Committee shared information on the funding allocated during the November session for various outstanding FEMA payments. Some complications were stressed involving denial of payment obligations by the States, requiring more consultations among parties. The President said whatever the situations, the possibility of making a partial payment should be considered to show commitment.
President Mori also alluded to on-going plans for an upcoming bankers and investors conference in the FSM in May, spurring comments on the benefits of such conference within bigger efforts for building growth.
In discussing the likelihood of revenue increase, the President asked for support of a Pacific-United States multilateral fishing treaty, which may increase annual revenue by nearly 10 million, he affirmed.
FSM revenues under fisheries activities may be impacted positively by the treaty as the FSM is one of four major fishing grounds in the Pacific.
When looking at some challenges, concerns were raised regarding the FSM's poor rankings in certain international ratings, the most recent being the 2012 Index of Economic Freedom by the Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation as carried in the December 24 issue of the Kaselehlie Press. The Leaders hinted at the need to seriously look at the report and its citations.
The Committee also expressed interest in the FSM Peer Review conducted by a group of Pacific Island experts with management support by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.
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