The 4th SNLC begins with all Principal Officials in attendance at Palikir
Palikir, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services): February 2, 2012 - The 4th State and National Leadership Conference for the five governments within the Federated States of Micronesia started on February 1, with all Principal Officials in attendance at the FSM-China Friendship Complex at the College of Micronesia-FSM main campus.
The conference started at 10:00a.m. with the leaders selecting Governor Sebastian Anefal from Yap State to be the chairman of the 3-day meeting, followed by the series of opening statements from the Heads of Governments.
First among the speakers was President Manny Mori who stressed the need to keep the conference focus on very specific issues out of the pile of issues the leaders may want to discuss. The President said that it may be unrealistic to expect the meeting to conclude with all solutions instantly in place. He offered as a consideration for the leaders that "capable individuals" be identified and tasked hereafter to further action on what shall be decided at the conference as part of the overall goal for all the governments to synergize achievable actions and sustain efforts down the road. President Mori high-beamed the need to address the various impacts of "decrements" under Compact sector funds, better understand issues relating to the Compact Trust Fund and its use and viability beyond the year 2023, and appreciate the prudent ways of sharing revenues to stimulate the economy for all governments.
Governor John Ehsa of Pohnpei State noted that a series of similar meetings with much the same agenda items had been held in previous years and urged that these items moved from being "agenda items" to "action items", becoming "policy matters being implemented by the five governments". Like President Mori, Governor Ehsa stressed that an improved economy is required for a successful transition through 2023, expressing his gratitude to the FSM Congress for passing the Unified Revenue Administration Act and called on the States to follow suit with other related legislations to facilitate tax reform aimed at strengthening economic growth.
Speaker Henry Falan of the Yap State Legislature spoke in favor of having the conference with the conviction that "a forward-looking nation" must ensure "both ends of [FSM's] canoe are upright and the leak in the canoe is plugged in time because the voyage is long", the Speaker said. Speaker Falan summed up what has to be done by saying to fellow leaders, "we just got to get on and do what we need to do".
Governor Lyndon H. Jackson of Kosrae State pointed out two specific items that his delegation would l like for the conference to address, including the ability for the States to directly benefit from fishing rights fees and that a study of the Gross Revenue Tax scheme be undertaken in order for the governments to be more aware of its potentials. Governor Jackson also expressed his wish that the conference move forward in the spirit of cooperation and unity, based on a "one nation, one people" aspiration and goal.
As the last speaker, Governor Johnson Elimo of Chuuk State echoed the same appreciation for the collaboration in having the conference. Like previous speakers, Governor Elimo appealed to fellow leaders to make the most out of this conference and strengthen resolve for the governments to move foreword by expediting remaining action on tax reform across all governments, sharing generated revenues more equitably, revisiting the long term fiscal and economic framework plan for the nation and pursuing measures to foster economic growth through the private sector and certain sectors of the Compact intended to bolster growth.
After the formal welcoming statements by the Heads of Government, the leaders had a series of presentations on topical issues for consideration, including immigration and labor, conducted by Acting Secretary Johnson Asher and Assistant Attorney General Jun Bacalando, Department of Justice; trafficking in person protocol, presented by Secretary Lorin Robert, Department of Foreign Affairs, and comprehensive review of health systems in the FSM, facilitated by Dr. Vita A. Skilling, Department of Health and Social Affairs with inputs from other State counterparts.
The first day concluded with a preview of the series of topic sessions for the next two days.
The decisions that shall be made at this conference will be issued in an outcome document that may lead to further policy formulation and action plans in relations to the issues addressed.
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