PALIKIR, POHNPEI. July 13, 2023 (CFSM- Pohnpei Delegation Office)– The First Special Session of the 23rd Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia convened on July 10, 2023 to deliberate on the Fiscal Year 2024 Budget; preparations for the Inauguration ’23; and seat the newly elected senators from Chuuk and Kosrae to the Congress.
Speaker Esmond B. Moses appointed a Special Committee to Wait on the President which consisted of Senator Joseph J. Urusemal as Chairman with members: Senator Merlynn Abello-Alfonso, Senator Perpetua S. Konman and Senator Paliknoa K. Welly. The committee met with President Wesley W. Simina and informed him of the session and ready to accept the President’s issues of discussion. President Simina was joined by Vice President Aren B. Palik and the interim members of his Cabinet.
The Committee communicated the priorities of Congress for this session and received an agenda detailing important matters President Simina wishes to flag for the Congress attention. Among the President’s issues was the amendment to the law on the Joint Committee on Compact Review and Planning (JCRP) negotiation team to which he requested immediate action by the Congress to allow the team to address the remaining issues surrounding the 2023 Amended Compact.
Next on the President’s agenda list was his FY 23 Supplemental Budget. A $3 million supplement budget to fund urgent needs of the National Government, and the revised FY24 budget in which he will be transmitting to the Congress soon for consideration.
The President also flagged the nominations transmitted to Congress for the Nation’s missions overseas and requested the Body’s attention. Action was also requested on the legislation to amend the remaining travel restrictions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
The President also requested the Congress to approve and accept the following grants:
1. $4,007,059 CDC Grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;
2. $254,111 UN Environmental program for FSM Global Biodiversity Framework; and
3. $1,325,000 grant from US Department of Health for Pediatric Mental Health.
Finally, the President requested that some funding be appropriated for disaster relief for Typhoon Mawar for Guam and the Commonwealth of the Mariana Islands.
The Committee inquired on the previously appropriated $9.5 million for settlement of the PII case. The Committee was advised a detailed report will be transmitted to Congress regarding the new administration’s investigation into this issue.
Additional discussion was held regarding: 1). the FSM census and the possibility of including those FSM citizens residing overseas, 2). the new higher fares by United Airlines for the island hopper, 3). FSM not being eligible for FEMA disaster relief assistance unless at least one member in a household is a U.S. citizen, 4). The continue ban on workers from the PI, and 5). the need for domestic FSM transportation to have a permanent set schedule.
In closing, the President advised the Committee that he had completed his first state visit to Pohnpei State and intended to visit the other three States before the end of the fiscal year.
The meeting concluded with mutual agreement to move forward on a cooperative manner.