FSM Information Services (November 9, 2012): The Federated States of Micronesia held its Development Partners Forum on November 7 and 8 at the College of Micronesian-FSM Palikir Campus under the theme Looking to the Future.
Responding to invitations sent by the FSM National Government, the following Development Partners, many of whom are based abroad, were represented by delegations of varying sizes: the Asian Development Bank; the Government of Australia; the People’s Republic of China; the European Union; the Food Agricultural Organization; the Forum Fisheries Agency; Israel; the International Monetary Fund; Japan; the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat; the Pacific Development Bank; the Secretariat of the Pacific Community; Singapore; the United Nations Joint Presence; the United States of America; the World Bank; and the World Health Organization.
Representatives from the FSM Private Sector, various conservation societies from the States, women organizations, other non-government organizations as well as public corporations also participated at the forum and made interventions at the side with the Development Partners.
In opening the forum, President Manny Mori said the FSM “stands today at a critical crossroad” and stressed that the task of nation building “is far from being accomplished”. He went on to highlight the shortfall in the Compact Trust Fund, the lack of a sustainable economic growth and the various adverse effects of climate change (such as sea level rise and threats to food security) as the three main immediate obstacles facing the FSM.
Focusing on the President’s overview on the purposes of the forum, selected heads of departments and offices put on a number of presentations on the governments’ basic portfolio and the socioeconomic standards and their resulting constraints that have impeded overall development throughout the thirty-three years of self-governance.
These presentations exposed internal challenges and shortfalls in broad areas under education and health and the interlocking impacts from sectors such as communication and transportation; natural resource management and tourism; energy distribution; environmental issues and climate change; and the inability to grow the private sector to create jobs and reduce heavy reliance on the government sector.
In addition, President Mori directed attention to the FSM’s established Trust Fund with proposed accounts for natural catastrophes and climate change mitigation as an area to which commitment of support by Development Partners can be seriously considered.
Throughout the two-day forum, the Development Partners made some observations and comments on the presentations and responded in generally supportive terms to statements made from the FSM Leaders.
The resident Diplomatic Partners, namely the United States, the People’s Republic of China, Japan and Australia, reiterated their commitment to support and help facilitate the FSM’s efforts to build a robust economy.
Ambassador Doria Rosen of the United States said the US has always been and will continue to be a supportive partner with the FSM through the Compact arrangements or other forms of relationship.
In making the final statement by Australia, Ms. Erin Magee, Country Manager for North Pacific Australian Aid, spoke favorably of the forum and underscored Australia’s technical and financial support to the FSM tax reform initiative, among others, which has been on-going for some years.
Ambassador Zhang Lianyun pointed out that China and the FSM have enjoyed a growing fruitful relationship and pledged support that will further propel FSM on a road to enhanced growth. He also acknowledged that FSM would benefit more from a coordinated aid structure.
Speaking after a few Japanese officials who recounted Japan’s various assistance at State level through JICA and other aids, such as the runway extension at the Pohnpei International Airport, Ambassador Eiichi Suzuki reiterated Japan’s commitment on bilateral and regional levels, including the Pacific Leaders Meeting (PALM) that Japan hosts every three years.
Among the traveling participants, Ambassador Verghese Mathews of Singapore drew attention to his country’s ascent to economic sufficiency in spite of having no industries of scale in fisheries and agriculture and how financial success grew from disciplined long-term planning and actions that boosted job creation, education, and confidence in investment by their Partners.
The European Union, represented by Mr. Malcolm Ponton, pointed out that the forum coincided with the EU’s foreign aid cycle and made comments in response to President Mori’s statements on the FSM Trust Fund and the viability of growing and marketing crabs from Micronesia at competitive capacity using modern methods.
The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIF), in the person of Deputy Secretary General Mr. Feleti P. Teo, spoke of similarities between the aims of the forum and other programs and mandates undertaken by the PIF, while encouraging the FSM to consider existing regional endeavors that essentially proclaim comparable sectoral objectives on a regional level. Additionally, PIF provided information on the Forum Compact (Cairns Compact) which puts emphasis on better coordination of development assistance to enhance effectiveness, maximizing impact on sustainable economic development.
One of the most vocal and energetic speaker was Mr. Xianbin Yao, Director General of Pacific Department at the Asian Development Bank. At the outset of the forum, Mr. Yao asserted that Development Partners along with the State and National participants needed to play an active role at the forum to take advantage of the opportunity to work together under the same roof, addressing a common interest.
In closing the forum, Vice President Alik L. Alik characterized the meeting as an indication that the FSM governments are “ready to adopt a far more active and strategic role in determining the nature and delivery of assistance”. He thanked the stakeholders and all who enabled the forum to take place including the civil organizations and government agencies for their support.
In general, the Development Partners commended the FSM Government for convening the forum and provided assurance that its outcomes would guide future development engagements with the FSM.
For more information, please contact the FSM Office of SBOC at 320-6260 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.