Monday, August 26, 2013

Yap Congressmen brief members of State Legislature

FSM Congress News
Yap Congressional Delegation
Press Release YCD1308-02

 Colonia, Yap. August 20, 2013 – In hopes for more transparent governance, and unified leadership, Congressman Joseph J. Urusemal and Congressman Isaac V. Figir, Yap’s representatives to the 18th FSM Congress, briefed the Yap State Legislature on certain legislative measures before the FSM Congress, primarily those enacted during the First Special Session of Congress last July. Both Congressmen had a similar briefing with the Governor and Lieutenant Governor a week earlier. 

Speaker Falan opened the informal, but official, meeting by thanking the Congressmen for initiating to brief the Yap State Legislature on matters before the FSM Congress.

He further added that the Yap State Legislature thought it would be prudent, as it is in the best interest of the State, to also discuss Yap’s needs and progress towards the State’s submarine fiber optic connectivity, which would enhance Internet services in the State of Yap.

For this reason, the Governor, the Director of DY&CA, and the General Manager of FSM Telecom Corporations Yap Branch (FSMTC) were also invited to join the senators in the meeting.

Before the gist of the discussions began, Senator Chieng voiced to suggest that future briefings by the Yap delegation to Congress be collective of all branches of the Yap State government. He urged for unity amongst the leaders especially now that the leaders and people seem to have been divided over some recent issues before the State.

 Both Congressman Urusemal and Congressman Figir agreed that the recommended approach is best, and easier for them. Future briefings by the Congressmen will be communicated to the Governor and Speaker to coordinate a collective meeting with the rest of the State leadership.

Speaker Falan followed with a progress report on the submarine fiber optic connectivity project between Guam and Palau with a spur to Yap, and further reiterated the State leadership’s position on the need to connect to fiber optic.
 He reported that based on meetings the State leaders have had with representatives of the World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the FSM Department of Transportation, Communication, and Infrastructure (FSM TC&I), the State leadership has learned that there is “an offer of a lifetime” presented to [FSM] by the World Bank. This is a full grant offer and it will ensure Yap’s connectivity to the fiber optic cable, and other related technical assistance. He also added that a requirement for this grant offer is the need for the FSM to pass a legislation liberalizing telecommunication services by early next year.

Chairman Figir pointed out that he and Chairman Urusemal have very limited knowledge and information on the project, as they have yet to be briefed on the project. They are also not aware of any recent proposed legislation pending before Congress to liberalize telecommunication services.

Both Congressmen further commented that when a proposed legislation on the issue is introduced, they would have to do an in-depth study of the bill and its impacts on the governments and the people of Yap and the FSM, and only if the bill will benefit Yap and the FSM will they vote to support the liberalization of telecommunication services.

Chairman Urusemal then went on to brief the Yap State Legislature (YSL) on recent congressional acts during the Special Session last July.

The Chairman shared Congressional Bill 18-26, now Public Law 18-06, which is an amendment to extend the deadline for implementation of the FSM Tax Reform. This amendment was to allow the remaining States who have not passed its Value Added Tax (VAT) legislation to do so by September 30, 2013, for the FSM Tax Reform to go through.

Senator Giliko and Senator Mooteb posed similar questions pertaining to the effect of the legislature’s action on the FSM Tax Reform effort as the legislature have recently adopted a committee report not recommending passage of Yap’s RAA and VAT legislation because of constitutional issues.

Chairman Figir responded by saying that the FSM Tax Reform will not go through as the law currently stands, unless an amendment is made to repeal the provision of the tax law which requires all four states to pass its VAT legislation by the said deadline. Chairman Figir further commented that he and Chairman Urusemal respects the decision of the Yap State Legislature, and "we have to live with the consequences one way or the other, and must move on" with nation building.
 The Chairman’s report also included Public Law 18-11, which is an appropriation of $1.68 million to assist the States of Pohnpei and Yap with recurring debts and budget shortfalls. $550,000 of this appropriation was given to the State of Yap for this purpose, provided that $50,000 of the amount is to be used for fuel costs for a ship field trip.

Another appropriation by Congress, the Chairman reported, was Public Law 18-07 for funding public projects and social programs, which includes among other Yap State projects a $150,000 supplemental grant for the Yap Catholic High School construction.

Additionally, Public Laws 18-08 and 18-09 were also mentioned, which are acts of Congress to forgive remaining balances of loans given to Kosrae and Chuuk respectively.

The Chairman also shared with the legislature three resolutions recently adopted by Congress, including a resolution confirming the nomination of Mr. Vincent Tafileluw to serve as a member of the FSM Social Security Board of Directors.

Chairman Urusemal concluded the briefing by informing the legislature that the 18th FSM Congress is scheduled to reconvene for its Second Regular Session in early September. A similar briefing will be communicated after the Session for a collaborative leadership meeting with all branches of the Yap State government.

[Information in this release was made by the FSM Congress Information Office, Yap Delegation Office in Yap State]

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