PALIKIR, POHNPEI – January 12, 2013. The Sixth Regular session of the Seventeenth Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia convened in Palikir on Monday – January 7, 2013 to wrap up all measures outstanding and pending before the Body during the last Regular Session of the current Congress.
With the formalities of an opening session taken care of on the first day, the next four days began with an ominous statement by the Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means which seemed to set the general tone for the week. Chairman Dohsis Halbert cautioned Members to be “extremely wary of our revenue projections this year” for the state of the world has become unstable with implications that are sure to affect the FSM.
The Chairman’s advice to the Congress was to “hold off on major financial decisions” until a clearer picture is gauged of where the world’s economy is headed. He suggested that attention be given to the nations’ Trust Fund and to Social Security with the President’s supplemental budget to be carefully scrutinized to fund only those items of great urgency.
Day Two concluded with the passage of the following legislative measures:
1. Congressional Act 17-73, (C.B. 17-146), is an Act to improve the procedure for corporate income tax payment, and for other purposes; and
2. Congressional Resolution (CR) No. 17-201, to convey condolences of the 17th Congress for the passing of a great friend to the FSM, the Honorable Daniel K. Inouye. A native of Hawaii, Inouye was a Member of the Senate in the United States Congress.
On Day Three, Congress passed the following legislative measures:
1. Congressional Act 17-73, (C.B. 17-146) is an Act to improve the procedure for corporate income tax payment, and for other purposes; and
2. Congressional Act 17-74, (C.B. 17-206, CD1) and Congressional Act 17-75, (C.B. 17-207) are both Acts to amend certain public projects and social programs in the states to change the use and allotee of funds previously allotted.
On Thursday, Day Four Chairman Halbert introduced a Bill on the floor which he requested the Members to mull over the weekend. Congressional Bill 17-209, proposes the appropriation of 5million from the FSM General Fund to “offset effects of the next five years of the decrement of Compact Funding for the Administration of the five governments of the FSM, Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Yap…”
The Chairman stated that the amount would be given to the states up front and all at once so that it can be “stewarded wisely by the states in accordance with their internal legislative processes as they shepherd their citizens through the next five years of Compact Funding cuts.” His statement was concluded with a request for suggestions on how to further address the decrements.
While Members empathized with the intent of the measure, they were nevertheless of the consensus that the state governments themselves must exert more willingness and effort to address the decrements.
Following the floor discussions on Halbert’s measure, Congress agreed to go into recess and reconvene on Monday, January 14, 2013.