Congress Session Address National Budget and Infrastructure Needs of States
PALIKIR, POHNPEI – Congress tackled the National Government’s budget for fiscal year 2015 and approved over $7million for various infrastructure needs of the four states during its recently concluded Fifth Regular Session of the 18th Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia.
Known as the national budget session, the September Sessions mainly involve the national budget and matters financial in nature.
During its recent session Congress passed Congressional Act (CA) 18-92 to approve a budget of $55,098,704 to fund the operation of the three branches of the National Government, its agencies, various programs, grants, subsidies, contributions and capital and human resources development for fiscal year 2015;
Through CA 18-94, Congress lifted the restriction on the President to allow him to reprogram funds to support operations of the Executive Branch;
Congress approved the sum of $1,200,000 in CA 18-96 to provide $300,000 to each of the four states for improvement of their infrastructure facilities and also as Infrastructure Matching Funds;
To better serve the needs of the State of Pohnpei and streamline its services Congress established, through CA 18-97, the Pohnpei State Commission on Improvement Projects;
CA 18-98 is a two-fold measure which first requires the President, in the event of an override, to assign a new public law number to the legislative measure to avoid confusion. And the second part is to return the overridden and newly numbered measure to Congress within two working days;
Through CA 18-99, Congress appropriated $5,421,600 for infrastructure improvements in the states of Chuuk and Kosrae with $5,200,000 towards the Weno Road Project in Chuuk and the remaining $221,600 for redesign of the Kosrae State Hospital;
CA 18-100 extended the lapse date for funds appropriated towards operations of the Project Management Unit under fiscal year 2014;
Congress passed another measure for infrastructure through CA 18-101, to appropriate $550,000 as Matching Fund for the Airport Improvement Project in the State of Chuuk; and
Finally before it adjourned, Congress passed CA 18-102, to adopt the 2014 annotated version of the FSM Code to initialize the process of its publication and dissemination.
In its continuing efforts to assist the financially strapped states, Congress passed measures for various public projects and social programs to support ongoing endeavors in the four states to meet the economic and social needs of the people.
Congress had in CA 18-93, changed the use and allottee of certain funds previously appropriated for public projects and social programs in the states of Kosrae and Pohnpei;
Through CA 18-95, Congress changed the use of certain funds previously appropriated for public projects and social programs in the State of Chuuk to be utilized instead towards road improvement and land transportation; and
Congress changed the use of certain funds previously appropriated for public projects and social programs in the State of Pohnpei through CA 18-103 and CA 18-104.
All the Congressional Acts were transmitted to the President for his signature otherwise the measures automatically become law without his signature 30 days after the Congress’ transmittal date.
In addition to the Congressional Acts, various Congressional Resolutions were also adopted to support efforts and programs of the National Government. A majority of the resolutions were grants to assist the various programs and services under the National Department of Health and Social Affairs, but the non-grant related measures included:
Congressional Resolution (CR) No. 18-192 – expressed the sadness and condolences of the 18th FSM Congress at the passing of the Honorable Martin G. Yinug. The late Yinug was the head of the Third Branch of the National Government, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Federated States of Micronesia.
In light of communications received by Congress that the Unified Revenue Authority would begin its mandate to administer FSM tax, Congress adopted C.R. NO. 18-220, and urged the President to delay implementation of the URA until further review and after all components of tax reform are in place.
Congress also adopted two resolutions to ratify certain Treaties to which FSM is a party and those resolutions included:
- C.R. 18-42, to ratify the Amendment of the Third Arrangement Implementing the Nauru Agreement signed in July 2013 Concerning Cooperation in the Management of Fisheries of Common Interest to remove the closure of the Eastern High Seas; and
- C.R. 18-133, to ratify the 2010 Amendment to the Cotonou Agreement between the European Community and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group states in order to strengthen the objectives of the agreement and ensure access to its benefits under the Economic Development Fund.
Two nominations were also adopted during the Fifth Regular Session:
- CR. 18-176, confirmed Roger Arnold to serve as a member representing the State of Chuuk on the Board of Directors of the National Oceanic Resource Management Authority; and
- C.R. 18-218, confirmed Tulensru E. Waguk to serve as a State of Kosrae representative on the Board of Regents of the College of Micronesia.
Through C.R. NO. 18-217, Congress thanked Mr. John Nowakowski for his services as a staff attorney to Body since 2012. Since joining Congress, Nowakowski had also served as the Congressional representative on the National Law Day committee.
Congress adopted a ceiling of $69 million in C.R. 18-216 as estimated funds for appropriation from the General Fund. And finally Congress adopted C.R. 18-219 to request the Speaker to call for a Special Session in November.
The remaining resolutions addressed the funding needs of various programs currently in service throughout the Nation along with potential services available for the benefit of the Nation. Among the bigger grants were:
C.R. 18-196, which accepted an International Development Association Grant of $14,400,000, to fund the implementation of the FSM Energy Sector Development Project; and
C.R. 18-211, which accepted the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration Grant Agreement of $5,000,000 to fund the Chuuk International Airport Project.
Measures for the various programs under the Department of Health and Social Affairs included:
C.R. 18-189, which accepted a grant of $6,000 from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, to fund the completion of the World Heritage nomination file for Nan Madol and Lelu ruins;
C.R. 18-190, accepted a grant of $164,470 from the U.S. Department of the Interior through the Office of Insular Affairs’ Technical Assistance Program, to fund the updating of the Peer Review Manual and conducting Peer Reviews of the Office of Public Auditors for the nine (9) U.S. Territories and Compact nations;
C.R. 18-193, accepted a grant of $501,420 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency, to fund the FSM Department of Health and Social Affairs LAUNCH Project;
C.R. 18-197, accepted a grant of $42,000 from the US Department of Health and Human Service Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to fund the FSM Immunization and Vaccines for Children Program;
C.R. 18-198, accepted a grant of $82,878 from the US Department of Health and Human Service Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to fund the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity Program;
C.R. 18-199, accepted a grant of $22,716 from the US Department of Health and Human Service Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to fund the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity Program;
C.R. 18-200, accepted a grant of $644,741 from the US Department of Health and Human Service, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, to fund the implementation of the FSM Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Program;
C.R. 18-201, accepted a grant of $40,694 from the US Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, to fund HIV related programs within the FSM;
C.R. 18-202, accepted a grant of $50,000 from the US Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Public Health Surveillance Program Office, to fund the implementation of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System;
C.R. 18-205, accepted a grant of $376,250 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, to fund the FSM Oral Health Workforce activities;
C.R. 18-206, accepted a grant of $99,145 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to fund the FSM Preventive Health and Health Services Project;
C.R 18-212, accepted a grant of $39,300 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, to fund the FSM Emergency Medical Services Children Program;
And finally, C.R. 18-209, approved the submission of the FY 2015-2017 Grant Application to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, to fund the State System Development Initiative Program in the FSM in the amount of $300,000.
Congress also adopted two measures to accept grants for programs under the Division of Social Affairs, and they included:
C.R. 18-210, which accepted a grant of $98,360 from the US National Park Services, to fund the Historic Preservation Fund Program in the State of Yap; and
C.R. 18-215, for a grant of $98,360 from the U.S. Historic Preservation Fund through the National Park Services, to fund the operating administrative costs and project funds for the Kosrae Office of History and Culture Preservation.
Congress had adjourned one day earlier than its scheduled 20-days session having convened on September 15, 2014. In accordance with the recently adopted measure, a November Special Session may soon be called by the Speaker.