Wednesday, April 16, 2014

FSM Postal Services to unveil new stamps at COM-FSM Gymnasium on April 30th


On-going land clearing work to build sport facilities on college premise
FSMIS (April 16, 2014): The College of Micronesia-FSM and the FSM Postal Services will hold a Postal Stamp Unveiling Ceremony at the FSM-China Friendship Sports Center Practice Gymnasium on the college campus in Palikir, Pohnpei on April 30, 2014 starting at 1:00 P.M.

The stamps will highlight historic events for the college in recognition of current achievements and celebration of successful efforts undertaken to assure quality post secondary education in the Federated States of Micronesia.

According to information from the college, all staff, faculty and students are urged to join in at the ceremony.  

For more information of the upcoming events, contact the college at 320-2480 or the FSM Post Office at 320-2313.

President Emmanuel Mori received first Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium to be accredited to Federated States of Micronesia


from left: Vice President Alik, President Mori, Ambassador Van Remoortele and Mrs. Syliva Tay, Ambassador's wife 
Dept. Foreign Affairs (April 16 2014): On Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 10:00am, H.E. President Emanuel Mori received the Letter of Credence of H.E. Roland Van Remoortele as the first Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium accredited to the Federated States of Micronesia in an official ceremony at the President’s Conference room in Palikir, Pohnpei. In attendance of the ceremony were Vice-President Alik L. Alik, Secretary Kensley Ikosia, Deputy Secretary Samson E. Pretrick and staff from the Office of the President and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

During the ceremony, President Mori welcomed the Ambassador and his wife, Mrs. Sylvia Tay, to the FSM. He thanked him for visiting the FSM and congratulated him for his historic appointment as the first Ambassador of Belgium to be accredited to the Federated States of Micronesia, since establishment of Diplomatic relations in 1996.  The President also indicated his desire to strengthen engagement and cooperation between the FSM and Belgium. 

As a founding member of the European Union, the President expressed appreciation for the EU’s development assistances provided to the FSM under its European Development Fund, which had supported FSM’s effort to implement renewable energy projects throughout the nation.  President Mori took the opportunity to affirm Climate Change as a top priority for the FSM, which continues to be a major issue of concern to the FSM, as a small island developing state. Toward this end, he requested for Belgium and the European Union continuing support for the plight of small island states in the international debates. 

Other issues discussed, is the possibility of establishing an Honorary Consul of Belgium in the FSM as well as formal diplomatic representation of the FSM in Brussels, Belgium.  Ambassador Van Remoortele also paid a courtesy call on Vice-President Alik L. Alik, Lt. Governor Marcello Peterson of Pohnpei State, Cabinet Members of the National Government and members of the Diplomatic Corps.
 
For further information, call the department at 320-2641 or email fsmpio@mail.fm
 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Third Joint Coordinating Committee Meeting


The FSM Office of Environment and Emergency Management (OEEM), in collaboration with the Japan International Cooperative Agency (JICA), hosted the 3rd Joint Coordinating Committee (JCC) meeting of the Japanese Technical Cooperation Project for Promotion of Regional Initiative on Solid Waste Management in the Pacific Island Countries (J-PRISM), on February 27, 2014 at the  OEEM Conference room from 8 am to 11 am.

Invitations were sent to State Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Directors, State Department of Transportation and Infrastructure and Public Works Directors, FSM Transportation, Communication and Infrastructure Secretary, FSM Department of Foreign Affairs, PMU Project Manager, SBOC Director, Japan Embassy staff, and Pohnpei Waste Management staff. The meeting enabled EPA/KIRMA and Public Works Directors to address key outputs and activities implemented in their states during the 3rd year of the J-PRISM program, and propose a way forward.

The Government of Japan responded to eleven Pacific Island Countries (PIC) requests for its support of improved solid waste management in 2009. As a result, FSM is part of this regional technical cooperation project receiving technical assistance in the area of waste collection and disposal and landfill management. The overall goal of J-PRISM is to enhance sustainable management of solid waste in the Pacific region  for the purpose of  strengthening human and institutional capacity base through implementation of the Pacific Regional Solid Waste Management Strategy.

In his opening remarks, JCC Chairman Mr. Andrew Yatilman welcomed the participants and noted J-PRISM's assistance to the FSM states in the area of solid waste management.

Additionally, JICA Resident Representative Mr. Kaoru Iwasaki expressed his warmest regards to everyone and emphasized the importance of the J-PRISM's program in the area waste management.

State EPA/KIRMA and Transportation and Infrastructure/Public Works Directors from Chuuk, Yap, Pohnpei, and Kosrae presented on the current progress of their outputs under the J-PRISM program. Outputs that were addressed pertained to Policy and Strategy, Waste Collection, Waste Disposal, Awareness, and Legislations. A discussion followed the Directors' presentations in which several topics were raised for the Directors to share and exchange their views. Topics such as leachate monitoring, sharing of landfill designs among states, and submission of monitoring action plans were raised during the discussion. Those representing the states included: Yap EPA Director Christina Fillmed and DPW&T Director Vincent Figir; Chuuk EPA Director Ishmael Mihkel, DPW Assistant Director Binasto Ruben; Pohnpei EPA Director Albert Roby, Pohnpei EPA Environment Specialist Charles Lohn, Kosrae EPA Director Robert Jackson, and DT&I/PW Director Weston Luckymis.

Since 2011 through J-PRISM's technical assistance, the FSM states have developed solid waste management plans, improved waste collection and disposal systems, improved the management and operation of existing dumpsites, and participated in landfill and waste management techniques trainings in Japan. At the national level, FSM OEEM has finalized a National Solid Waste Management Strategy and is awaiting endorsement.

The JCC meeting ended with the closing remarks by Mr. Shiro Amano, Chief Advisor of J-PRISM. As well as praising effort of concerned parties, he told the importance of the waste management, which is an endless issue, as long as people produce waste, to be tackled for the next generation.

Saipan-based GPPC to complete Weno Road project for a total of $7.7 million


On April 9, 2014, the FSM PMU Contracting Officer awarded the completion of the Weno Road project to Saipan-based contractor, GPPC, Inc., thereby ending the speculation that Pacific International Inc. (PII) will be reinstated to complete the contract work. The FSM Government’s announcement follows the determination by the Surety, Century Insurance Company (CIC), that it would not honor its legal obligations under the bond. CIC had issued the Payment and Performance Bond for the Weno Road project which is contract insurance to the Government in the event of contractor default and obligates the Surety to fund the balance of the contract. In order to move forward and complete the project for the people of Chuuk State, the US Department of Interior, Office of Insular Affairs, has been requested to reinstate the project funding and also issue the additional grant funds necessary for completion.

FSM Department of Transportation, Communication and Infrastructure Secretary Francis Itimai, in his letter to OIA Director Nikolao Pula, reported that GPPC's final proposal received by the PMU on April 7, 2014, offered to complete to remaining contract work for $7,289,562.10. Additional sums were requested by the FSM Government to complete work previously performed by PII that is not acceptable and for additional work not part of the base contract for a total cost of $7,703,382.41. Secretary itimai's letter to OIA Director Pula notes that the total cost for GPPC to complete the contract work compare favorably with the estimated cost for the previous contractor in default, Pacific International, Inc., to complete the work. If the PMU would have kept PII on the project, the total cost, including PII claims, would have exceeded $10,200,000.

The letter to OIA concluded that, in the interest of keeping this important infrastructure project moving forward and in consideration of the best interest and the health and welfare of the people of Chuuk State, OIA should lift the suspension of Grant funds and award additional funds necessary to complete the project as soon as possible.

A more comprehensive coverage tracking the development of  activities involving all parties along a timeline of events and decisions will be provided in a week.
 

For further information, call the Office of PMU at 320-2080 or email fsmpio@mail.fm.

 

Friday, April 11, 2014

FSM at Pacific-ACP meeting: PACP considers options for Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations


FSMR&D (April 11, 2014): A meeting of Pacific-ACP Trade and Fisheries Ministers is currently being held in Suva, Fiji to discuss the way forward on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) for the PACP Group. After PNG’s announcement at the last Joint Technical Working Group in Brussels in October 2013 to withdraw itself from the negotiations on the comprehensive EPA, the EU suspended the negotiations on the justification that a comprehensive EPA could not be negotiated or concluded without PNG, who is the only Pacific ACP Member State who has signed and ratified the interim EPA (iEPA).
In a March 2014 letter received from EC Trade Commissioner De Gucht on EU’s position on the way forward, the Trade Commissioner provided the PACP Group with possible options, which the PACP region could consider to move the negotiations forward. The purpose of this meeting is to have Trade and Fisheries Ministers deliberate over the best approach to move the negotiations forward.  
FSM’s interest in the negotiations is to secure global sourcing for HS products 0304/0305 (fresh, chilled, frozen fish fillets) and development assistance to support FSM and other PACPs with their trade and trade related needs.
The meeting is being attended by FSM Ambassador to Fiji, Mr. Gerson Jackson, Assistant Secretary for Trade and Investment, Ms. Camille Movick-Inatio, and Trade Adviser, Mr. Jean Bertrand Azapmo.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

ONPA Releases Audit Report on ADB Grant Assistance for Weno Water

The ONPA announces the release of Audit Report No. 2014-05, Audit of ADB Grant Assistance for Weno Water Supply Well Remediation Project funded by Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR) for fiscal years 2012 and 2013.

The audit report is available for public viewing online at www.fsmopa.fm. Printed copies are available at the ONPA’s offices in Palikir, Pohnpei and on Weno, Chuuk.

Grant assistance from the JFPR was provided to the FSM National Government to improve the delivery of safe and secure water supply to the residents of Weno Island in Chuuk State. The
grant amounting to $980,000 was administered by the Asian Development Bank. The Department of Transportation, Communication & Infrastructure was the Executing Agency for
the project while the Chuuk Public Utility Corporation was the Implementing Agency.

The project started in 2009 and was completed in July 2012. As a result, 28 water wells were made operational, delivering safe and secure water supply to the residents of Weno Island.

We performed this financial audit in accordance with Government Auditing Standards, issued by the Comptroller General of the United States. Based on our audit, we expressed an unqualified
opinion on the financials for the years ended September 30, 2012 and 2013.

We also evaluated the internal controls related to financial reporting and found a number of deficiencies as follows:

 Segregation of duties was lacking over the control of cash       

     disbursements.

 Monitoring of reconciliations was not consistently performed.

 Manual checks were used for project disbursements instead of

     the MICR encoded checks      routinely used for most payments processed through DFA.
 

 Certificates of insurance were not maintained on file for     

     consulting and engineering
     contracts.

 The project maintained its funds in a non-interest bearing    

     checking account.

 The project did not submit the required quarterly and annual

      progress reports.

 Payments to suppliers directly paid (direct payments) by ADB

     were not recorded in the
     books of accounts of the FSM National Government.

 Disbursements from the Imprest Accounts were not

     replenished/liquidated timely.

The concerned Departments generally agreed with all the findings and recommendations except for the finding and recommendation regarding the use of Manual Checks. The Acting Secretary of the Department of Finance & Administration disagreed with the recommendation that automating the printing of checks would minimize the likelihood for fraud and misappropriation of assets.


The ONPA evaluated the response and is retaining the finding and recommendation about manual checks.

The concerned departments should take corrective actions to improve the deficiencies noted by
the audit.
 


Office of the National Public Auditor
P.O. Box PS-05
Palikir, Pohnpei FM 96941
Tel: 691.320.2862/2863; Fax 691.320.5482
Hotline: 691.320.6768; Website: www.fsmopa.fm

FSM Congress shows appreciation to First Speaker and approves two nominations


FSMIS (April 10, 2014): During the recently concluded Third Special Session, the fourteen Members of the Eighteenth Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia unanimously authored and approved a resolution, expressing appreciation to Mr. Bethwel Henry, the first elected Speaker of the Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia, for his "dedication and public service to his country".

The document refers to Mr. Henry as one "of the remaining 'Founding Fathers' of the Federated States of Micronesia, the group of Statesmen who forever changed the political landscape of Micronesia by establishing the foothold for the nations in the Micronesian archipelago to progress towards self-governance and sovereignty".

Two nomination resolutions also met congressional approval; a nomination for Mr. Kalwin Kephas to represent the State of Kosrae on the FSM Social Security Administration Board of Directors and for Mr. W-One Williander of Toleisom Island in Chuuk to be the FSM Election Commissioner in Chuuk State.

Mr. Kephas' resolution (C.R. 18-119) was introduced on January 22 and adopted on April 1.

The confirmation resolution for Mr. Williander (C.R. 18-130)  was introduced on January 31, during the Third Regular Session. Congress initially disapproved the nomination toward the end of the recently concluded 10-day special session, but subsequently reconsidered and confirmed it on March 31, two days before adjourning.

For further information, contact the FSM Information Office at 320-2548 or email fsmpio@mail.fm.