|President Manny Mori and the FSM Delegation to the Pacific Islands Forum at bilateral meeting with the World Bank|
FSMIS – Majuro (September 5, 2013): A bilateral meeting between the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and the World Bank took place on the morning of September 3 at the Marshall Islands Resort in Majuro in the Republic of the Marshall Islands where Leaders of the Pacific countries are gathering for the 44th annual session of the Pacific Islands Forum.
This meeting allowed FSM and the World Bank another opportunity to further discussions on possible World Bank assistance towards FSM’s long-term objective of improving broadband connectivity through the utilization of fiber optic cables in all the States in the FSM.
Mr. Axel van Trotsenburg, Vice President of the World Bank, underscored the World Bank’s commitment to supporting Information Communication Technology (ICT) reforms through ICT infrastructure and services financing strategies that are available to its members.
Leading the FSM delegation that included Senator Peter Christian, Senator Yosiwo George, Secretary Lorin Robert, Secretary Marion Henry, Secretary Francis Itimai and Mr. Fredy Perman of FSM Telecom, President Manny Mori expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to engage once again in discussions with the World Bank to firm up action plans and deliver results in overall ICT improvement in the FSM.
The World Bank representatives spoke about a possibility of the World Bank’s financing a regional program covering Palau and Micronesia, to facilitate ICT development, reduce related costs, and increase communication services in support of social and economic advancement.
They also spoke on the requirements for FSM to access their portion of the potential financing for this project, which could be around US$30-40 million. A required component of this prospective funding would entail Palau’s willingness to accept other financial arrangements with the World Bank to complete a proposed Yap-Palau fiber optic cable linkage with the Guam-Philippines cable line.
Mr. Trotsenburg explained the World Bank’s current efforts in emphasizing bilateral and regional commitments to places facing “extraordinary vulnerability”.
“All countries matter no matter how small or big they are”, Mr. Trotsenburg affirmed at one point during the discussion.
Under certain World Bank criteria, the FSM is eligible for a grant allocation of approximately US$13 million aside from region-based or joint projects subject to the bank’s discretion.
The FSM has until June of 2014 to put to use its current allocation according to policy-based, agreed upon ICT and related ICT-enhancement projects.
Given inputs from Members of both parties, it was agreed that time-tied alternative options be put in place to guide decisions in case the outstanding joint interest involving the Republic of Palau does not materialize. To be included in the timeframe of options is the determination on possible World Bank presentations with State and National Leaderships to enhance understanding on its operations and financing processes.
President Mori acknowledged the emergence of competing interests based on the pursuit of newer trends. However, he underlined the overall aim of spreading the benefit of high-speed connectivity throughout the nation in a manner that would capitalize on provider-user mutual satisfaction, nurture valuable support from partners, and enable medium to long term ICT-triggered improvements.
A World Bank delegation under its Vice President will be heading to Pohnpei on September 5 to continue discussions with officials and political leaders. While in Pailikir, Mr. Axel van Trotsenburg will announce a US $1.1 million grant for FSM and Palau, for the Telecommunications and ICT Technical Assistance Project to support regulatory reform and prepare for future potential projects.
Other delegation Members with President Mori at the meeting included Mr. Andrew Yatilman, Director of the Office of Environment and Emergency Management; Ms. Evelyn Adolph, Director of the Office of SBOC; Mr. Leo Falcam Jr., Chief of Staff; Ambassador Gerson Jackson, FSM Ambassador to Fiji; Mr. Alik Jackson, FSM Congress legal staff; and Mr. Marcellus J. Akapito, Special Assistant to the President on Information.
Joining Mr. Trotsenburg from the World Bank were Mr. Franz R. Drees-Gross, Country Officer for Timor-Leste and the Pacific Islands and Ms. Annette Leith, Operation Officer for Timor-Leste and the Pacific Islands.
For inquiry, contact Marz Akapito through firstname.lastname@example.org.