President Mori cautiously warned citizens on post-2023: open FSM forum in Honolulu
Palikir, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services): June 30, 2012 - More than two hundred FSM citizens in Hawaii had the opportunity to meet with President Manny Mori in Honolulu on Tuesday, June 26, 2012. President Mori was in Honolulu on his return from attending the United Nation Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio, Brazil.
It would have been just another meeting with FSM officials in transit discussing ongoing issues, but President Mori had brought along Fr. Francis X. Hezel as a member of his delegation to discuss preliminary outcomes of the recent FSM-Government-sponsored survey on citizens living abroad. Fr. Hezel, who is not a Government official, had been contracted by the Mori Administration to carry out the survey. The citizens' expectation for the survey was evidently high in view of the questions and comments raised at the meeting.
Reiterating the same message he had delivered in his State of the Nation address in May, 2012, President Mori cautiously warned citizens about the ending of the financial provisions of the Amended Compact in 2023 and what impact it will have on the FSM. "We must prepare ourselves given that the outlook is not bright", he said, referring to the expected shortfall in the Compact Trust Fund comes 2023.
The Compact Trust Fund was set up for the purpose of sustaining FSM Government budget beyond 2023 when the financial provisions of the Amended Compact comes to an end. Building on contributions from the Amended Compact, the projection for the Trust Fund was initially at $1.8 billion dollars by the end of 2023, a figure that would sufficiently sustain the FSM budget after the Compact is terminated. However, with the current condition of the global market as well as other factors, the current projection stands $1.2 billion or a shortfall of $600,000 million.
The shortfall of more than half a billion is substantial for budgetary operations of the Nation beyond 2023. President Mori told the citizens this shortfall may not necessarily affect citizens who have chosen to remain in the United States, but it will certainly impact the FSM Government and subsequently and citizens who remain in the Federated States of Micronesia.
In a town-hall setting, President Mori and his delegation engaged in discussion on other issues including tax reforms, government restructuring, infrastructures, immigration, social security, and the FSM economic outlook. Ambassador Asterio Takesy of the FSM Embassy in Washington D.C. and Fr. Hezel also took the floor, each one taking turn to add their own perspective on the Compact and issues facing FSM citizens living abroad.
In a rather positive twist, Fr. Hezel referred to the contributions FSM citizens are making both abroad and back home with their families and communities. He stressed the latest obstacles facing FSM citizens in Hawaii and/or the US as nothing new in the US history of migration. He maintained that the same kind of treatment was always encountered by any new group of people migrating into the US, whether it's the Italians or the Germans on the East Coast, or the Filipinos or the Samoans in Hawaii. "It happens that this is Micronesian's turn to migrate to the US" and the problems encountered are part of that migration stigma. Citizens were encouraged to remain positive and responsible, and to make good use of their presence in the United States.
While making general observations of the survey he and Dr. Mike Levin are conducting, Fr. Hezel defer the final report to the FSM National Government to release it when he turns the report over.
One recurring theme of the meeting was the call by President Mori for citizens abroad to be 'ambassadors of the FSM' in their respective jurisdictions and represent the Nation with a sense of pride and responsibility. The message must have resonated well with the audience that some citizens took the floor and joined the panel to expand on the message.
Representatives from the Department of Justice, the Department of Finance and Administration, the FSM Embassy in Washington D.C., the FSM Social Security Administration, and the Division of Immigration were also on hand to address issues relevant to their respective areas.
Earlier in the week, President Mori also met with bankers from the Bank of Hawaii, Merrill Lynch, and Atalanta Sosnoff to get an update on the status of investment for the Compact Trust Fund. All three institutions play one role or another in managing the Compact Trust Fund.
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 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.fsmpio.fm/