Session underway for 2017 national budget and pending issues
PALIKIR, POHNPEI. May 18, 2016 – The Fourth Regular Session of the Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia convened on Wednesday, May 11, 2016 to begin its deliberations on the 2017 budget for the FSM National Government.
A quorum of eight Members convened the Fourth Regular Session on Wednesday morning witnessed by President Peter M. Christian, Vice President Yosiwo P. George and members of the President’s Cabinet along with various heads of the national government offices and agencies. With the May session being the beginning of budget deliberations, FSM’s own Ambassadors from the overseas missions were also witness to the mornings session and were individually recognized and welcomed by the acting Floor Leader Senator David W. Panuelo,
1. Ambassador Jane J. Chigiyal from the Mission at the UN;
2. Ambassador John Fritz from the Embassy in Japan;
3. Ambassador Carlson Apis from the Embassy in China;
4. Deputy Chief of Mission Wilson Waguk from the Embassy in Fiji, and
5. Consul General Kandhi Elieisar of the Hawaii Consulate Office.
The acting Floor Leader also recognized the presence of the diplomatic missions to the FSM:
1. Ambassador Dorian Rosen of the Embassy of the United States of America;
2. Ambassador Masaki Sakai of the Embassy of Japan; and
3. Ambassador Li Jie of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China.
Along with the diplomatic communities, officials from the state and municipal governments also joined the mornings’ session, notably: Chief Justice Aliksa B. Alikso of the state of Kosrae;
Mayor Jose San Nicholas of the Kolonia Town Government and the Kolonia Town Speaker Jack Harris.
Following the formalities of session openings, Speaker Wesley W. Simina shared that aside from the Yap Delegation scheduled to arrive later during the day, the missing Members were excused to attend to personal health. The same was extended to the absent Chief Clerk Liwiana Ramon Ioanis with her duties to be taken up by Assistant Chief Clerk Jessicalynn Reyes.
On a more upbeat note, Speaker Simina shared with Members the new initiatives his office has undertaken to enable more accessibility to Congress and its official proceedings through an upgraded and user friendly Congress website along with live-stream of the Fourth Regular Sessions through the same upgraded website: www.cfsm.fm
While the first three days of the session was focused on the opening proceedings and hearing schedules for the national budget for the departments and offices, Congress nevertheless touched on two issues of current concern to the Body. The first was an issue raised by Chairman Isaac V. Figir of recently created Special Committee on Climate Change who questioned why the recently signed Paris Agreement was not among the first issues transmitted for attention during the Fourth Regular Session.
The Paris Agreement is a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting the global warming to well below 2°C. Figir urged the submission of the summary analysis and legal details of the Agreement to Congress for its review and action.
The other issue addressed on the floor was the veto of Congressional Act No. 19-77, a measure proposed to restore the cap on the Entry Revolving Fund. Created by law, the revolving fund was established to allow appropriations for, and revenues from, the issuance and renewal of entry permits to be used for entry permit issuance and renewal and for training FSM citizens to assume positions in the FSM workforce currently held by noncitizen workers.
The veto was assigned to the Committee on Ways and Means to review and it reported to the Body that it found no legal impediments or any drafting errors and determined that “the veto [was] purely based on policy decision.” On May 13 2016, Congress overrode the Presidents veto.
Following the override, Congress went into recess to allow the various committees to conduct public hearings with the relevant entities of the national government on their budgetary requests for the upcoming fiscal year. All public hearings are being held at the Central Conference Facilities next to the Congress Chamber while the Congress Public Hearing Room is under construction.
Congress is scheduled to reconvene for session on Thursday May 19, 2016.
The Fourth Regular Session of the 19th Congress is scheduled for 20 days to end on May 30th unless extended or shortened through Congressional Resolution. As usual, the sessions of Congress convene at 10am in the Congress Chambers in Palikir and are always open to the interested public. Through live-stream, the current sessions of Congress can be viewed at: www.cfsm.fm