Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year 2013 Message from President Manny Mori


Fellow leaders, citizens and friends of the FSM.

In the festive spirit of the holiday season and the New Year 2013, please allow me to extend my best wishes to you and to thank you for all the support and cooperation you have extended this past year.

This New Year 2013 is a pivotal year for the Nation as we are half-way into the implementation of our Amended Compact of Free Association.  During the most recent leadership conference in the FSM, I shared my views and perspectives with the conference participants, impressing upon them that the issue of 2023 and Beyond has now become our most pressing national focus of attention.  I also stated that this is not a one-man show as it will require the support and cooperation of all leadership at all levels of government, among the branches of government, as well as the participation of our traditional leaders, members of the clergy, private sector, and civil society.

Needless to say, underpinning our collective efforts to address 2023 and Beyond is the paramount issue of National Unity, which can be sustained only through support and cooperation from all of our five governments. As in any federation, this will be a formidable task and a challenge, but I am pleased to acknowledge that we have taken the necessary steps in the right direction in working with state governments in addressing their pressing needs. Burden sharing is now generally accepted as a way to share the nation’s resources, achievements as well as disappointments all across our governments as we move forward together.   

Secondly, while acknowledging that much progress has been made in our political institutions and processes, we must accelerate our efforts in developing our economy through the four priority sectors – fisheries, agriculture, tourism, and energy. Our heavy reliance on foreign financial assistance and imported goods must change. We must reorient our attitude toward our God-given natural and human resources and realize the value in nourishing and using them sensibly and sustainably.  We must persist in promoting the planting and consumption of healthy local food to foster a productive instead of a consuming economy.  

Thirdly, in addressing 2023 and Beyond or any issue of development, our environment must be an integral part of the discussion. As a Pacific island developing state with a fragile environment vulnerable to disasters, this is even more imperative and urgent.  Thus, in developing our economic and social strategies, including further investments in the trust funds, the environment must continue to command our attention and resources.

Lastly, we will be remiss when we talk about development without acknowledging the contributions of our development partners and friends to our nation building. We are indeed appreciative and grateful for their generous assistance and cooperation which are not only contributing to our economic and social improvements, but most importantly, are cementing and strengthening the friendship that our peoples have come to enjoy.  As small Pacific island nation, we cannot reciprocate all that is given to us, but we are always pleased to “…extend to all nations what we seek from each: peace, friendship, cooperation, and love in our common humanity.”

As we celebrate the holiday season and embrace the dawn of the New Year 2013, we thank the good Lord for the many blessings bestowed upon us and our families. May He continue to shower us with His blessings of good health, peace, and prosperity, and keep the Federated States of Micronesia in His loving care.

Happy New Year!

 

President
Emanuel ‘Manny’ Mori

 

 

 

   

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sharing the Christmas spirit: visits to the hospital, clinic and prision

front row: l-r: Morgan, Marlyn Jack, Darifa, First Lady Emma Nelson-Mori and Abraham Roby. back row l-r: Pelsasar Petrus, Joanie Mendiola, Taki Mendiola and Marz Akapito
Assisted by staff of the Office the President, grand daughter Darifa, Morgan from Micronesian Red Cross, and the President's daughter Elmae Mori, First Lady Emma Nelson-Mori visited the Pohnpei State Hospital and the Genesis Hospital in Nett on Christmas Day. She brought some gifts to the patients at the various wards in the hospitals, sharing Christmas greetings and cakes.


First Lady Emma approaching a a patient with gifts and cake
Lunch meal was also provided to prisioners at the Pohnpei State Correction Center in Nett with correction officers on hand to receive the two staff who brought the food.

It has been President Manny Mori's practice to greet patients and prisioners with gifts and food on Christmas Day -- which is also his birthday.

Correction Officers at the front of the Correction Center on December 25, 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

New and Improved Neauo Village Water Well in Chuuk


FSM IWRM Project


On December 07, 2012, FSM Department of Resources and Development Secretary Marion Henry as the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) Project National Focal Point delivered to the Chuuk State Leadership and Neauo Village community in Weno, Chuuk the completion of the improved Neauo Well project.  Present at the launching event were Senator Roger Mori, Chuuk State Government Chief of Staff, Mr. Wilfred Robert, Chuuk Environmental Protection Agency Acting Director, Mr. Jason Poll, as the IWRM Project State Focal Point, Chuuk Women Council representative, Mrs. Christina Stinnett, Pacific Landscaping Engineering and Construction Company representatives, Village chiefs, landowners and multitude of Neauo villagers. Senator Roger Mori joined Secretary Henry to hand over the project on behalf of the National Government to the Chuuk State Leadership in his delivery remarks.  The project construction began in October 2012 with smooth and timely implementation by Pacific Landscaping Engineering and Construction Company.  

 

This Neauo Well project significantly improved the sanitation and health conditions, thus contributing to the benefits of the wellbeing and livelihood for over 400 nearby residents who depend on this source of water for their daily water needs. The project directly contributes to the national vision “to provide access to safe and clean water to the people of FSM, now and in the future”  signed by President Mori and State Governors on March 22, 2011. In this connection, the project hand over marked a fresh starting point to improve water quality and access for Neauo community and serves as a demonstration model. Prior to the support of the IWRM project, there was no decent facility at this well for women and children to wash and bath privately; this project is a positive example of community-based efforts to minimize the vulnerability of women and young children and securing safe access to water. Several known drowning incidents had claimed lives of three children at this well in the past and with the improvement of the well, tragedy like this can be avoided.  

 

The FSM IWRM project is part of the regional Global Environment Facility Pacific IWRM Project being operated by the Applied Geoscience and Technology Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community in 14 Pacific Island Countries. As the FSM IWRM National Focal Point, the FSM Department of Resources and Development works closely with key IWRM local partners including Pohnpei State Government, Pohnpei Utilities Corporation, Conservation Society of Pohnpei, Nett District Government, Chuuk State Government through Chuuk EPA, Chuuk Women’s Council, and local community partners in both Chuuk and Pohnpei.

Patterson K. Shed

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Biggest Loser Competition concludes third round



FSM Information Services (December 18, 2012): The FSM Department of Health and Social Affairs NCD Program concluded today the third round of its 6-months weight loss competition program popularly known as The Biggest Loser Competition.
Competitor enters the competition at the start of a six-months period according to set categories. Waistline measurements and weight reduction are compared at the end of the competition period. Ranks are determined according to the amount of inches and pounds one is able to get rid of. The “biggest loser” walks away with attractive prizes. An assortment of other token prizes is also available  for other achievers.
This third round of competition has a number of expensive prizes including flat screen television, computer accessories, umbrellas with designs, office and school materials, and other devices.
 
Before the winners were announced, some of the programs in the department, such as NCD and Cancer, took brief moments for “question and answer” with the participants after some “pep-talk” by Dr. Mayleen Ekiek and Secretary Vita A. Skilling on the reasons for the program and the need to have such throughout the FSM.  The participants were also introduced to the Zumba dancing and exercise program as a fun alternative to jogging, walking and other fitness regiments.
        (The youngest winner in the biggest loser competition, raw talents, complete innocence)
The competition was dominated by many women, some of whom claimed that the number one reason for joining the program was to “be more sexy”.
The activity took place at the Spanish Wall Pavilion in Kolonia.
The winners listing will be provided once confirmed by the NCD Program Coordinator, Mr. Kipier Lippwe.
For more information on the competition, call Norleen Oliver at 320-2619.
 
 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Memorial Prayer Service held in Pohnpei in honor of Keitani Graham




FSM Information Services (December 17, 2012): A memorial prayer service was held at the Our Lady of Mercy Church in Kolonia, Pohnpei the morning of December 17 in honor of Keitani Graham.

Ten days after the shock of his passing, several friends, colleagues and many others for whom Keitani would remain a hero and a role model are still trying to come to terms with the reality of his death.

Today, a sizable crowd gathered at the Catholic Church in Kolonia in a simple but passionate service, remembering and praying for Keitani and his family in Chuuk. The service was requested by the FSM National Olympic Committee Secretary General, Mr. Jim Tobin on behalf the many athletes, coaches and sports officials who have come to know Keitani as a friend, a partner, a coach, a fellow leader and a role model. Some members of the Friends of Xavier – Pohnpei (FOX-P) also assisted at the prayer service, including Ms Alissa Takesy and Mrs Suzanne Low-Gallen.

Also attending the service were Dr. Vita A. Skilling, Secretary of FSM Department of Health and Social Affairs, Ms. Evelyn Adolph, Director of SBOC, Mr. Mike Loyola, Pohnpei State Sports Development Coordinator, Mrs. Ermine Walliby, COM-FSM Peer Counseling Program Coordinator (family member to Keitani), Fr. Ken Urmolog S.J., Xavier High School teacher for Keitani, Mr. Scott Mori, one of Keitani’s classmates at Xavier, several members of the Chuukese Catholic Community of Pohnpei, several Pohnpeian friends and staff of the FSM National Olympic Committee Office.

In his homily, Fr. Julio Angkel spoke of Keitani as a humble person who “walked in the footsteps of Christ” in the way he lived -- inspiring, teaching, sharing and creating opportunities for others in ways that treated everyone as equal and important.  

Mr. Jim Tobin gave a moving reflection on Keitani’s endeavors and achievements as Oceania’s best wrestler and FSM’s ideal athlete who gave his all not only in training and competition but also in administering sports and related works. Jim also confirmed that Keitani was a sitting Vice President of the FSMNOC as representative of his home state of Chuuk.

The coaches and athletes who are part of the FSM Team to London 2012, a team that Keitani deservedly belongs to, and are residents of Pohnpei all came to the service, still mourning the passing of their dear friend.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Australia and New Zealand join forces to combat domestic violence in the Pacific


The Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the New Zealand Police have signed a unique agreement to work together to reduce domestic violence in the Pacific.
The two agencies will be working specifically in the Micronesian police services where a joint approach will ensure a better level of support in this part of the Pacific.
The AFP and the NZ Police will link together through the Pacific Prevention of Domestic Violence Programme (PPDVP). The PPDVP is a joint initiative of the New Zealand Aid Programme, NZ Police, and the Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police. The programme aims to increase the capacity of pacific police to work effectively against reported instances of domestic violence and to achieve this through partnerships with other agencies and the community.

"PPDVP Programme Manager Cam Ronald welcomed the agreement with the AFP."
“The PPDVP has had a strong focus on the Polynesian countries and especially those near to New Zealand. We have also assisted other pacific police services, including those in Micronesia, but at a reduced level of support."
"Having the AFP come on board with their focus on the Micronesia police services ensures a standard approach across the pacific to reduce the harm caused by domestic violence.”
The AFP have appointed an officer who will work with Micronesian police services which include the Republic of Palau, the four police forces in the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The Guam Police Department also supports these police services.
Work will include assisting in the setting up of specialised domestic violence units, training police staff and building partnerships with non-government organisations who support victims of domestic violence.
AFP Pacific Police Development programme coordinator, Superintendent Frank Clare said the agreement was a first for the two agencies.
“Working with the PPDVP which has established procedures and processes in place allows the AFP to meet our commitments in the region and to support the overall enhancement of police services in the northern pacific.
"This is the first such agreement between our Police Services and it demonstrates our common interests in working with the pacific police and their communities.”
The agreement will come into effect on 1 January 2013 and is for four years.
The first deployment of the AFP and the PPDVP will occur in February, following familiarisation and training with PPDVP in New Zealand and with the Programmes regional partners in Fiji in January.

ENDS

OIA FUNDING FOR INSULAR AREAS PRIOR SERVICE BENEFITS PROGRAM


Office of the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas

Washington, D.C. - Director for the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA), Nikolao Pula, announced a $500,000 grant to support beneficiaries of the Prior Service Trust Fund Administration. Funding is made available through OIA’s Technical Assistance Program. Support funds Prior Service benefit payments to beneficiaries in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), the Republic of Palau.
Beneficiaries are citizens who worked for the U.S. Department of the Navy and the Government of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) between 1944 and June 30, 1968. The Prior Service Benefits Trust Fund Administration ensures the solvency of the Fund and that payments to beneficiaries continue uninterrupted.
“I am pleased to support this initiative as a part of our appreciation and gratitude for the men and women of the former TTPI districts who helped support U.S. military and civilian personnel over more than two decades as the United States carried out its responsibilities as the TTPI’s administering authority,” said Pula.
From the last days of the Second World War, Micronesians worked with U.S. military and civilian personnel providing essential services, including those to active-duty soldiers, sailors and airmen and, care for the wounded and support for the men fighting in places like Iwo Jima and Okinawa. These employees were paid very low meager salaries, often as low as 9 cents an hour, with no employee benefits.
In June 2009, a census of beneficiaries was conducted, revealing 359 beneficiaries in the CNMI, 753 in the FSM, 236 in the RMI, and 319 in the Republic of Palau.


###

Friday, December 7, 2012

FSM National Prayer Day

FSM President Manny Mori left Pohnpei yesterday, December 6, for Guam where the FSM National Prayer Day will be held.

This will be the fifth year for such gathering, initiated by the President in 2008, bringing together government officials, church leaders from different denominations, traditional leaders, NGO's, schools and the youth.

The overriding purpose for the Prayer Day, which is usually placed very close to Thanksgiving Day, is to "drive home" the call for unity for all FSM at government, community, and perhaps even church levels under the broad benefits of prayer and thanksgiving.

In the past, various influential as well as maturing church, community and traditional leaders were called upon to facilitate the Prayer Day, with the youth groups and schools providing animated performances of songs and entertainment to add fun and energy.

Having held the Prayer Day at all the four states in the FSM, nearby Guam was chosen to be the venue this year in awareness of the role it plays as a "home" to thousands of FSM citizens and as a significant Micronesian neighbor in the region.

It is hoped the National Prayer Day will help faciliate the nurturing of meaningful and beneficial integration between people, encouraging stewardship, cooperation and productive citizenship with one common goal -- creating a better world for everyone. 

Contact Marz Akapito markapito@gmail.com for inquries.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

FSM and China sign Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement


Department of Foreign Affairs (December 5, 2012): An Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation was signed by Secretary Lorin S. Robert and Ambassador Zhang Lianyun, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the FSM, on December 04, 2012 at the FSM Foreign Affairs Conference Room.
The grant aid of RMB 60 million was a token of appreciation by the Chinese Government during President Manny Mori’s recent trip to China in September 2012. Pursuant to the agreement, the grant aid shall be used for project(s) to be agreed upon between the two Governments.
In his brief remarks after the signing, Ambassador Zhang conveyed that the grant aid is a token of appreciation for President Mori’s visit to China -- a Chinese Government tradition honoring a visiting foreign leader. He also stated that China attaches great importance to the Government of FSM’s economic and social development efforts.
Secretary Robert responded by thanking the Chinese Government through Ambassador Zhang and expressed his appreciation for the generous assistance to the FSM with assurance that the assistance will contribute to FSM’s economic and social development efforts.
 
While assuring the Ambassador, Secretary Robert stressed the FSM’s commitment to its “conscious decision” to honor the “One-China” policy and thanked him for the significant relations their countries have exercised bilaterally and within multilateral engagements.

For further information on this release, please contact Department of Foreign Affairs, APAMA Division at 320-2641.

 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

FSM Receives Compact Sector Grant Awards Totaling $62 million for FY2013


Palikir, POHNPEI (FSM Office of SBOC) – On November 8, 2012 the Office of Insular Affairs issued seven Grant Awards to the Federated States of Micronesia totaling $50,709,947. The Grant Awards are the result of the Joint Economic Management Committee’s recent allocation resolution for fiscal year 2013. Earlier in the fiscal year, on October 19, 2012, the Office of SBOC’s Division of Compact Management also received this year’s Supplemental Education Grant (SEG) in the amount of $11,751,632. The eight grant awards totaling $62,461,579 have been apportioned to the five FSM governments according to FSM law.

 
National 10%
Chuuk    38%
Kosrae 10.9%
Pohnpei 25.31%
Yap 15.79%
TOTAL
Education
$4,252,868
$2,504,071
$2,439,446
$7,374,354
$3,874,645
$20,445,384
Health
$895,705
$8,608,714
$2,111,506
$5,768,196
$3,308,441
$20,692,562
Public Sector
0
$1,516,597
$502,060
$421,057
$506,514
$2,946,228
Private Sector
0
$795,369
$782,462
0
$795,663
$2,373,494
Environment
0
$685,341
$215,903
$352,223
$364,550
$1,618,017
ERA
$222,450
$619,095
$177,582
$288,645
$173,465
$1,481,237
Infrastructure
$1,153,025
0
0
0
0
$1,153,025
SEG
$1,175,162
$4,465,620
$1,280,928
$2,974,339
$1,855,583
$11,751,632
TOTAL
$7,699,210
$19,194,807
$7,509,887
$17,178,814
$10,878,861
$62,461,579

JEMCO concluded at its September Annual Meeting that the Compact Infrastructure Sector Grant, which accounts for thirty percent of Amended Compact funding, would only be issued to fund the FSM’s Project Management Unit. Further allocations would be contingent upon OIA’s receipt of an updated Infrastructure Development Plan.

JEMCO also agreed to fund only the first quarter of Chuuk State’s Education Sector Grant budget, pending the outcome of a high level meeting to review progress and implementation of the Chuuk Education Reform Plan. This meeting took place on November 2-3, 2012 in Weno, Chuuk and based on the communiqué issued, work is currently underway to secure JEMCO allocation of the remainder of Chuuk’s FY13 Education Sector funding.
For further information, please visit the Office of Statistics, Budget and Economic Management, Overseas Development Assistance & Compact Management (SBOC) website at www.sboc.fm or contact the SBOC Division of Compact Management at (691) 320-6260 or email Assistant Director for Compact Management, Ms. Suzanne Lowe Gallen at slowe@sboc.fm

FSM PRESIDENT WELCOMES PRELIMINARY FINDINGS OF FORUM COMPACT PEER REVIEW


Pohnpei, FSM, 3rd December 2012 - The President of the Federated States of Micronesia, H.E Emmanuel Mori welcomed the preliminary findings of the peer review conducted under the Cairns Compact on Strengthening Development Coordination (Forum Compact) 12 – 26 November 2012.
The Government of the FSM is the 9th Forum Island Country that has volunteered for a peer review of its national development planning, budgeting, public financial and aid coordination processes and systems.
The FSM has also specifically requested that in recognition of the pressing challenges facing the country, that their Peer Review team should also consider the suitability of the existing policy environment for promoting private sector development.
Selected by the FSM Government, the FSM Peer Review Team consisted of Mr Catalino Kijiner from the Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Ms Noumea Simi representing the Government of Samoa, Mr Johnson Naviti of the Vanuatu Government and Mr Asif Chida from the UNDP Pacific Centre in Fiji. The Team was assisted by staff of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.
The team consulted with leaders and agencies of the FSM national and state governments as well as non-government organizations, the private sector and development partners.
The Forum Compact Peer Review Team presented its preliminary findings through an Aide Memoire to the government and key stakeholders of FSM on 26 November. The team’s draft report is scheduled to be completed in three weeks and it will be released after the government has approved the recommendations.
In its presentation of its preliminary findings, the peer team acknowledged the support from both the national and state government agencies for the review and congratulated FSM on having chosen to host the peer review process after the completion of an FSM Partners’ Forum and a Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability Assessment (PEFA). This was a  sign that the processes for reforms are underway in FSM and the team had tried to support this in its discussions and conclusions.
During the peer review, the team  stressed that the review was not an assessment but was meant to be helpful to FSM by identifying existing starting points for progress and where there are missing elements, and most of all by putting FSM in touch with similar experience in the rest of the region.
The team was impressed by the common sense of urgency about the need for reforms and growth in FSM. Everyone, including the private sector and the NGOs were interested in how other countries are growing the private sector, managing aid and encouraging participation by all sections of society in inclusive development. The team also emphasised that the private sector and NGOs in the FSM are national development assets and encouraged both the national and state governments to foster close collaboration with in the years leading up to 2023.
On planning, the peer review team recognized the limited functionality of the FSM national Strategic Development Plan and national planning capacity but acknowledged some level of planning at the sector and state levels.  The team had concerns about whether the current complex form of performance based budgeting was working for the FSM and suggested more simplified, targeted performance budgeting based on experience elsewhere in the Pacific.
The FSM Forum Compact Peer Review team noted that for the private sector in the country, the main missing element (after tax reform underway) is a strategy for investment and domestic business growth. The team will recommend that such a strategy be driven by the private sector with appropriate assistance and drawing on the experience of neighbouring countries.
The team also acknowledged that the FSM Government has shown it takes aid management seriously through the establishment of the Department of Statistics, Budget, ODA and Compact (SBOC). The team welcomed the establishment of an aid management function at the state level noting that the key point is aid management and  acknowledged that the draft FSM ODA or Aid policy was being set along the right policy lines.
Substantive recommendations will be made on the areas covered by the peer review’s terms of reference in the final report.
ENDS.

For media enquiries contact Mr Johnson Honimae, the Forum Secretariat’s Media Officer on phone 679 3312600 or email: johnsonh@forumsec.org.fj

UN Agencies carry out Development Assistance Framework consultations with FSM


FSMIS (December 3, 2012):  A Joint-Mission of the United Nations agencies namely the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) visited the FSM in late November for the purpose of holding consultation with the FSM Government on the next United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF).  The next UNDAF cycle runs from 2013 to 2017.  FSM is currently implementing its UNDAF for the period of 2008 – 2012, during which the focus areas of assistance include poverty alleviation, the Millennium Development Goals, and Good Governance. 

Under the next UNDAF, focal areas will include gender, economic growth and poverty reduction, good governance, basic services such as health and education, and environmental management, climate change and disaster risk management.

A Joint-Strategy Meeting (JSM) was held between the visiting UN agencies and the FSM, building on previous consultations on the UNDAF.  Officials of the state and national government participated in the meeting.  While consultations had taken place before, the significance of the Mission was specifically to finalize the FSM Matrix of Activities under the UNDAF with an aim towards endorsing the matrix.  The JSM accomplished that objective paving the way for UN to seek formal Government’s endorsement.

Mr. Knut Ostby, United Nations Pacific Coordinator and UNDP’s Regional Representative who headed the Mission congratulated the participants for their endorsement of the document. 

The FSM Vice President Alik L. Alik, who received the Mission during a courtesy call commented by alluding to the recent Development Partners Forum (DPF) held in Palikir and referred to the JSM as an appropriate exercise to build on in harmonizing overseas development assistance in FSM.   

For more information, contact the FSM Department of Foreign Affairs at 320-2641 or email fsmpio@mail.fm

FSM Peer Review: Review team acknowledges challenges


PRESS RELEASE (149/12)
4th December 2012

The Federated States of Micronesia Forum Compact Peer Review Team acknowledges the unique challenges facing FSM compared to other countries in the region and this will be taken into consideration in its recommendations to the government and development partners.
The peer review conducted under the Cairns Compact on Strengthening Development Coordination (Forum Compact) was in the FSM from 16 – 28 November. The team met with the leadership of both the national and state governments and also representatives of national and state agencies, non-government organizations, the private sector and development partners.
The FSM Peer Review Team consisted of Mr Catalino Kijiner from the Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Ms Noumea Simi representing the Government of Samoa, Mr Johnson Naviti of the Vanuatu Government and Mr Asif Chida from the UNDP Pacific Centre in Fiji.
The FSM peer review continued the series of peer reviews across the Pacific as part of the Cairns Compact on Strengthening Development Coordination (Forum Compact) to review FIC’s national development planning, budgeting, public financial and aid management processes and systems. FSM was the 9th Forum Island Country to undertake this process.
FSM also specifically requested that in recognition of the pressing challenges facing the country, the Peer Review Team were to also consider the suitability of the existing policy environment for promoting private sector development.
“We have found a lot of challenges in FSM given its context but we were warmed by the fact that the people we met were receptive, as reflected in the numbers that attended the consultations. There was willingness by the people we met to consider other options that could be made available to them,” said Ms Noumea Simi, who had previously been involved in the peer review of two other countries.
Ms Simi added: “Definitely for FSM the peer review process has been a necessity. I think in the context of FSM the peer review process has been timely and I am certain that lots of lessons have been learnt that will enable them to move forward with the recommendations that our team will propose to the government.”
Mr Catalino Kijina, from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, who was part of the peer review process for the first time, described it as a learning experience for him.
“The whole process has been a learning experience for me as much I’d like to think that I have contributed something to the process in the FSM. We have the same challenges in RMI as they have in FSM as both countries have the Compact of Free Association with the United States,” said Mr Kijiner.
But he pointed out that “the budget process in FSM is very complex in the sense there are five governments involved in the whole process. But I think it can be improved and streamlined so that decision makers are provided enough information and time, and flexibility to really review the budget for effectiveness and efficiency.”
Another first timer to the peer review process, Mr Asif Chida, a private sector specialist with the UNDP Pacific Centre in Suva, Fiji, described the process as interesting and valuable as it gave the members of the team the opportunity to learn and share experiences.
With his experience in dealing with the private sector in the Pacific region, Mr Chida said, “FSM has this unique opportunity being in a geographical location where it has access to Asian and American markets. However, FSM also has unique challenges of high cost of doing business particularly with transportation and communication. FSM is cognizant of these challenges and needs to address them at the earliest in order to capitalize on the potential opportunities.”
“We found significant gaps exist in the flow of information between state governments and the national governments on investment opportunities in the country. In other Pacific countries this is addressed through the establishment of an investment promotion agency (IPA). FSM may need a dedicated IPA or investment promotion desk which can be at the national and state government level. FSM also has a significant opportunity in branding itself as a niche product destination including the development of organic farming for markets in Japan, Korea and even the United States,” said Mr Chida.
He also proposes that a private sector specialist or a representative of a private sector organization like Chamber of Commerce be included as a member of the peer review as most if not all of the countries in the region have economic growth among their priorities and the private sector is the engine of growth.
            The representative of the Vanuatu Government on the FSM Forum Compact Peer
            Review Team, Johnson Naviti, who was participating in his third peer review, said
            his participation in the peer review process is a manifestation of his
            Government’s commitment to regionalism and the Cairns Compact on      
            Strengthening Development Coordination.
“We were very fortunate in Vanuatu as we had the reform programme in 1997. The Forum Compact peer review which was held in Vanuatu last year enabled us to take stock of what we have done since that time. From the peer review we were able to know what we have achieved and areas that needed improvement. The fact that we have in place a development plan enables us to get development partners to compliment the government’s efforts in achieving its programmes and priorities. We are in a position to tell the development partners our priorities and these are the areas we need their help.”
Mr Naviti said,“if there’s any lessons for FSM, its more having a strong strategic plan and having a single budget for the recurrent and development budgets to determine the government’s priorities before going to the development partners for their assistance.”
The FSM Forum Compact Peer Review team is expected to present a draft report and recommendations to the FSM Government three weeks after the conclusion of the consultations. The draft report and recommendations will be discussed with the government and will be released after it has been endorsed by the government of FSM.
ENDS.
For media enquiries, contact Mr Johnson Honimae the phone 679 331 2600 or email: johnsonh@forumsec.org.fj