Thursday, July 31, 2014

President Mori holds bilateral meeting with Russian Federation envoy at the Pacific Islands Forum, Palau

from left: Secretary Lorin Robert, Ambassador Nikolay R. Kudashev, Secretary April Dawn Skilling, President Manny Mori, and Mr. Igor Khovaev

FSMIS (July 31, 2014): On Monday, July 28, Federated State of Micronesia President Manny Mori held a meeting with representatives of the Russian Federation at the Palau Pacific Resort in Koror, Palau.

The meeting was President Mori's first official encounter with Russia, facilitated by the occasion of the 45th Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) being held in Palau. The Russian officials have taken the opportunity to engage with Pacific countries as an invited country in the Post-Forum Dialogue between PIF Member States and their respective country and agency development partners, which will be held on Friday, August 1st.

Representing the Russian Federation were Ambassador Nikolay R. Kudashev and Mr. Igor Khovaev, who said they were grateful for the opportunity to meet with President Mori.

Ambassador Kudashev stated that based on new opportunities and global conditions, Russia is enhancing bilateral and multilateral relations with Pacific countries, including the FSM.

He also pointed out that Russia's interest in deepening ties with the FSM will take on genuine and mutual cooperation without creating obstacles or undermining FSM's relations with other countries.

Accompanied by his Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Lorin Robert, Secretary of Justice, Mrs. April Dawn Skilling, and his Chief of Staff, Mr. Leo Falcam Jr., President Mori discussed some interests in the areas of climate change support, tourism, renewable energy, health, sport development, and others.

The Russian officials stressed that people to people exchange, through tourism and other program, would be the most beneficial way in enhancing understanding between the two countries. They also spoke about Russia's experience of the visa-free program that facilitates tourism in other parts of the Pacific.

Ambassador Kudashev also highlighted climate change as a priority agenda for his country, noting FSM's active role in climate change discussions in the global arena.

Ambassador Kudashev invited the FSM to take advantage of the Russian Federation's diplomatic trainings in Moscow, which include the study of Russia's foreign policy in a changing world.

Kudashev is the Ambassador-designate to the FSM. At this meetings, the schedule for his presentation of credentials in Palikir during the October-November timeframe was also explored.

The meeting allowed the FSM and Russia the opportunity to reaffirm diplomatic relations established in 1999.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Micronesian Presidents meet in Pohnpei ahead of the 8th Micronesian Games

left to right: President Loeak, RMI; President Mori, FSM; President Remengesau, Palau; MPS opening meeting in Pohnpei

FSMIS (July 18, 2014):  Three days ahead of the opening of the 8th Micronesian Games in Pohnpei, the Micronesian Presidents' Summit (MPS) opened its session yesterday, July 17, at the Pacific Mission Aviation Auditorium in Kolonia, Pohnpei.

As an annual event, the MPS brings together the Presidents of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) and the Republic of Palau (Palau) to jointly address common concerns and advance mutual interests in the spirit of Micronesian solidarity refined through shared culture, political history, and economic aspirations.

The event started with a formal welcome by Governor John Ehsa of the State of Pohnpei, followed by the opening remarks by FSM President Manny Mori. President Mori welcomed his Peers and thanked all who played a part in making the meeting possible. Among the highlights he directed attention to, President Mori noted advancements collectively made in the management of fisheries within the Micronesian region. However, he underscored that collectively, the three governments should find ways to increase their benefit as fish-stock owners in an industry with a net worth estimated at around 7 billion.

RMI President Christopher Loeak, accompanied by the RMI First Lady, Minister of Foreign Affairs Tony Debrum and a few staff, also welcomed the opportune time for such gathering. At the end of his remarks, President Loeak noted that this would be President Mori's last MPS as FSM President and expressed his gratitude to President Mori for his leadership and guidance throughout the MPS processes.

President Tommy Remengesau Jr. emphasized his Government's support of the regional endeavors that the President have been facilitating, especially in terms of environmental conservation collaborations, such as the Micronesian Challenge, and resource management and protection. He also echoed President Loeak's words of appreciation to President Mori for his steadfastness in pursuing the interests of the Micronesian region through the MPS system as well as the regional and international leadership mechanisms. President Remengesau said the Micronesian nations should ensure that their agendas are well addressed at the upcoming Pacific Islands Forum to be held in Palau early August and the Third Small Island Developing States Conference in Samoa this coming September.

The opening meeting was attended by FSM Vice President Alik L. Alik, the Diplomatic Corp, Cabinet and staff of the three Governments, and  some community members.  

The meeting agenda included some presentations on the FSM-Palau fiber optic connectivity project, un update on air transportation project for the FSM, un update on Palau's marine surveillance and patrol program upgrading, and review of progress made in climate change negotiations towards a binding framework for mitigations of disasters -- presented by the Marshall Islands.  

The Presidents are having a retreat today on Ant Atoll. It is at such "sit-together" that sensitive issues and other pressing matters are chipped and shaped to build consensus, conformity and commitment.

It is expected that the President will endorse the MPS meeting outcome document tonight at a closing dinner reception at the Cupid Bar and Grill.

A report on the meeting outcomes will be forthcoming.

For more information, email fsmpio@mail.fm.
           

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

FSM Telecommunications Connectivity Project Moving Forward


FSM TC&I (July 16, 2014): President Mori updated the FSM Congress on recent developments in the FSM Telecommunications Connectivity Project, including availability of financing and 2014 timelines.

 It was erroneously reported in the July 14, 2014 edition of the Kaselehlie Press that the FSM Congress overrode the President’s veto of C.A. 18-75, popularly known as the moratorium on implementation of the FSM Telecommunications Act of 2014.  The fact is, Congress did not override the veto.  FSM’s liberalized telecommunications law continues to be effective and ready for immediate implementation, and the President’s efforts to secure funding for that implementation have been successful.

 On July 9, the World Bank formally informed the President that it can confirm the availability of up to US $51 million in grant financing for FSM’s portion of the Palau-FSM Connectivity Project.  This grant would fund 100% of the FSM’s share of a proposed Palau-Yap-Guam fiber optic cable, as well as fund 100% of a fiber optic cable connecting the islands of Weno and Satowan in the State of Chuuk to the existing Pohnpei fiber optic cable.  In addition, the grant would subsidize next-generation O3B satellite connectivity for the State of Kosrae for five years. 

 The World Bank proposes to secure formal Board approval for the project by November 30, 2014.  In order to meet that deadline, both FSM and the Republic of Palau will have to meet key project milestones, including finalizing the project design, recruitment of a project manager for the Palau-Yap-Guam portion of the project, and completion of the environmental and social safeguards work.  President Mori informed Congress that FSM’s Telecommunications Task Force and the Micro-Pal Fiber Optic Joint Committee, which contains members from both the Palau and FSM governments, have been diligently working to meet these milestones.

 In addition to the funds for infrastructure improvements for Chuuk, Kosrae, and Yap, additional grant money will be available for project management and for technical assistance.  The technical assistance money will assist the FSM in transitioning to a modern, liberalized telecommunications environment in line with the FSM’s Telecommunications Policy, and the legal framework provided for in the FSM Telecommunications Act of 2014.  The goal of the liberalized telecommunications environment is better service, including broadband internet services, and lower prices for consumers in the FSM.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Secretary Robert and Chief of Staff Falcam update President Mori on Micronesian Presidents' Summit matters

FSMIS (July 15, 2014): Federated States of Micronesia President Manny Mori had a briefing meeting this morning by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Lorin Robert, Chief of Staff Leo Falcam Jr., and two Foreign Affairs Department staff members: Mr. Carl Apis and Mrs. Shanty Sigrah.
 
The meeting covered updates on key aspects of the preparation for the Micronesian Presidents Summit (MPS), which will take place on July 17 and 18 at the Pacific Missionary Aviation Auditorium in Kolonia, Pohnpei.
 
The President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, His Excellency Christopher Loeak, arrived in Pohnpei earlier today.
 
His Excellency President Tommy Remengesau Jr. is expected to arrive tomorrow, July 16th.  
 
The main discussion focus for the meeting will be fully fleshed out by a group of selected high ranking officials from the three governments when they hold an "officials' session" on Thursday morning ahead of the main plenary for the Presidents. However, there is interest to include on the agenda common concerns relating to fisheries, maritime surveillance practices, Trafficking in Persons (Human Trafficking), and air transportation issues, among others.
 
A part of the Presidents' meeting also includes a three hour retreat on Ant Islet on July 18th, where the Presidents may want to hash out more sensitive issues amongst themselves in a less structured and more exclusive manner.
 
About a year ago, the Presidents agreed to hold their meeting immediately before the opening of the 8th Micronesian Games in the FSM State of Pohnpei in order to take part in the important region-wide undertaking.
 
For more information of the MPS, contact the Department of Foreign Affairs at 320-2641 or email fsmpio@mail.fm.

Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Krebs speaks at his presentation of credentials in FSM, July 11, 2014

Archbishop Martin Krebs making his remarks at the occasion of his presentation of credentials to Federated States of Micronesia President Manny Mori at the President's Office in Palikir, Pohnpei.

PetroCorp promo umbrella

With Vital FSM PetroCorp being the largest supplier of energy in the Federated States of Micronesia - a promotional high quality umbrella was dropped off today at FSMPIO by our friends from Vital.



Monday, July 14, 2014

Archbishop Krebs presents credentials to President Mori as Apostolic Nuncio to the FSM


from left: President Mori, First Lady Emma Nelson Mori and Archbishop Krebs at the President's Conference Room after the conclusion of the Archbishop's presentation of credentials ceremony
FSMIS (July 14, 2014): On July 11, FSM President Manny Mori received credentials from Archbishop Martin Krebs at the President's Office, accrediting the Archbishop as the Apostolic Nuncio of Pope Francis and the Holy See to the Federated States of Micronesia.

President Mori welcomed Archbishop Krebs in his capacity as the Vatican's "Ambassador" in the FSM and expressed his appreciation to Pope Francis for concluding the appointment, an indication of the strong ties between the Holy See and the FSM.

In addition, President Mori took the opportunity to express appreciation to the Pope in recognition of the tremendous support the Catholic Church in Micronesia has played over the years in various socio-economic development ministries and engagements, especial in the areas of education, health and social justice.

Archbishop Krebs extended greetings from the Pope and thanked President Mori for the warm welcome and reception extended to him by the FSM Government upon his arrival.

The Archbishop said he looked forward to working very closely with the FSM and the other ten Oceania countries with which he holds "Ambassadorial" duties.

He also spoke of his readiness to collaborate especially in areas where the Pacific countries might need the Church to speak in support of their cause at the global scene.   

The Archbishop also indicated anticipation to attending the Third International Conference on the Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) in Samoa in September, 2014, which President Mori is also preparing to attend.

Born November 2, 1956 in Essen, Germany, Martin Krebs became a priest in 1983 and later obtained a doctorate in Canon Law before entering the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1991.

As shown on the internet, "Archbishop Krebs has wide experience, working in a number of Apostolic Nunciatures in Burundi, Japan, Austria, the Czech Republic, the European Union and the United States of America". In September 2008 he was appointed Apostolic Nuncio in Guinea and Mali, two months before he was ordained Archbishop in November.

Archbishop Krebs arrived Pohnpei on July 11. Due to flight delay for his departure, he was able to say mass at the Our Lady of Mercy Church in Kolonia on Sunday morning before he left for Guam very late in the evening.

The new Nuncio replaces Archbishop Balvo who has been appointed to Kenya.

The FSM and the Holy See established diplomatic ties in 1994.

Micronesian Trade Committee meeting

On July 14, 2014 (Monday), participants from the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia gathered at the 6th Micronesian Trade Committee (MTC) at the nation's capitol to kick off its opening meeting - important issues regarding the revised draft treaty establishing the MTC were discussed amongst participants. For further dialogue, ministers will be joining the MTC tomorrow.

.

Friday, July 11, 2014

6th Micronesian Trade Committee Officials' and Ministers’ Meeting to be held in Palikir


FSM Dept. of R&D (July 11, 2014): The Micronesian Trade Committee (MTC) Interim Secretariat, currently headed by the Federated States of Micronesia Department of Resources and Development, is convening the 6th MTC Officials' and Ministers’ Meeting for July 14-16, 2014, at the Central Facilities in Palikir, Pohnpei, FSM.


The main objective of these Meetings, which will bring participants from the Republic of Palau (Palau), the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), and the FSM is to discuss the revised draft treaty establishing the MTC for further consideration by the Leaders during the 14th Micronesian Presidents’ Summit (MPS) scheduled for July 17-18 in Pohnpei. The upgrading of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) establishing the MTC into a treaty was endorsed by the Presidents of Palau, the FSM and the RMI during the 12th MPS in July 2012. In addition, the 6th MTC Officials and Ministers’ Meetings will also discuss and adopt the MTC Work Program as well as other legal and related documents that are necessary for the establishment of the MTC as a legal entity.

 
It should be recalled that the MTC was formally established through an MOU on July 3, 2008, in Pohnpei as mandated by the 7th MPS. The vision and goals of the MTC are to endeavor towards the creation of a Micronesian trade and economic block through the promotion of sub-regional trade and economic cooperation and integration to support the achievement of sustainable and equitable socio-economic development of its Member States and improve the standard and quality of life of their People. 

 
For more information regarding the 6th MTC Officials and Ministers’ Meetings, please contact Department of Resources and Development , Division of Trade and Investment, at telephone number (691) 320-5133/2646.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

President Mori updates Congress on Weno Road Project status: construction could start by early August


FSMIS (July 10, 2014): In a July 9th letter to Speaker Dohsis Halbert, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) President Manny Mori updated Congress on the status of the Weno Road Phase 1 Project on the Island of Weno in Chuuk.

President Mori told Congress that the two infrastructure sector grants for the road project suspended by the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA), United States Department of the Interior, have been freed. He stated that such decision cleared the way for approximately $4.5 million of funds already available, -- remaining funds from the $26.2 million water, sewer, road and drainage phase 1 project.

President Mori stressed that the Program Management Unit (PMU) at the FSM Department of Transportation, Communication and Infrastructure, "anticipates receipt of independent cost estimates and construction schedule from Stanley Consultants before the end of the week" (week of July 7).

The President also said that upon receipt, the estimates would be sent to OIA for review, followed by the issuance of additional funds under Infrastructure Development sector for completion of the project.

"The PMU will contract with GPPC Inc, which was awarded the bid with the condition of the availability of the funds as soon as possible, using the bid already submitted and funds in hand. The total amount of GPPC bid to complete the Weno Road Phase 1 is $7,703,382. Once the remaining funds are received, a change order for the remaining work will be executed so that the project may proceed to completion. It is anticipated that work could start by early August. The period of completion of the project is 15 months."

The President's update included information received from the Director of Budget and Grants Management, Office of Insular Affairs, Mr. Tom Bussanich, provided through a July 3rd letter to FSM Secretary of TC&I, Mr. Francis Itimai.

Mr. Bussanich's letter was copied and enclosed with the update for Congress.

For further information, email fsmpio@mail.fm.

Establishing and Managing Trust Funds in the Region


Hereunder is a press release from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat 
 
A Seminar on “Establishing and Managing Trust Funds” was held at the 18th Forum Economic Ministers Meeting in Honiara, chaired and moderated by Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Tuiloma Neroni Slade with presentations from the World Bank Group, Governments of Tonga, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and Cook Islands, highlighted important issues relating to experiences and challenges of establishing and managing Trust Funds in the region.

“Trust Funds are not new to the region as a number of Forum Island Countries have had experiences and continue to operate Trust Funds. Northern Pacific countries such as the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI) operate Trust Funds which are funded by United States of America. Melanesian countries, including Papua New Guinea and Timor
 Leste have Trust Funds which are funded by new natural resources, while Kiribati and Nauru 
have property rights and exhausted natural resources Trust Funds,” Mr Slade said.

The seminar presented a highly experienced panel consisting of: Ms
 Ekaterina Gratcheva from the World Bank Group, who presented on Lessons in Managing Sovereign Assets in the Pacific; Hon. Dr. Aisake Eke, Tonga’s Minister for Finance and National Planning, shared Tonga’s experience with Climate Change Trust Fund, one of the special purpose Trust Funds in the Pacific. The Director - Office of Statistics Budget & Economic Management & Compact Management from Federated States of Micronesia, Hon. Evelyn Adolph, presented on the Challenges in Management of Trust Funds, from FSM’s Country Perspective with respect to Compact funds management. Mr. Richard Neves, Financial Secretary of Cook Islands shared his experience with Trust Funds in Timor Leste 
and Cook Islands Fund.

“Trust Funds create both opportunities and challenges for a country to transform the resources which are held in trust, whether they be from abundance of natural resources or donor funds, into well-managed financial assets and ultimately to tangible development,” said Mr Slade.

The seminar generated great interest from Forum member countries on best practices and investment decisions especially with the case study of Kiribati, labeled as the largest of the trust fund in the Pacific region, and other country experiences presented by the panel.

Based on the seminar discussions and deliberations, the Secretary General stressed the importance of having well-functioning, well-managed Trust Funds with strong governance framework to translate the resources held in trust to fund sustainable socio-economic development both for current and future generations.

“For any Trust Fund to operate efficiently and to contribute optimally to a country’s development both in the short and long term, it is highly crucial for the Trust Fund to be established under strong and effective governance mechanisms, based on internationally agreed principles and best practices. Without strong governance and accountability mechanisms, as well as prudential financial management practices, macroeconomic and governance risks are high,” Mr Slade further added.

 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014