Tuesday, September 10, 2013

President Mori wants “rebalancing”, meets with US Secretary of the Interior in Majuro

FSM and US delegations during bilateral meeting at the outskirt of the Pacific Islands Forum in Majuro, September 2013

FSM President Manny Mori and Secretary Sally Jewell of the US Department of the Interior (DOI) held discussions at the Marshall Islands Telecom Conference Room on September 6, around two hours after the Secretary made her statement to the Pacific Leaders gathered in Majuro for the 44th session of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF).

Secretary Jewell flew into Majuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands, to represent the United States at the Post Forum Dialogue, a forum between Pacific Leaders, including Australia and New Zealand, and the PIF dialogue partners such as Canada, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, People’s Republic of China, Philippines, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union.

In their discussion, President Mori assured Secretary Jewell that his administration gives high priority to the “unique relationship” between the FSM and the United States.
Secretary Jewell and President Mori

President Mori spoke about some concerns and challenges in the implementation of the Amended Compact that, in his view, often over-reached into FSM’s sovereign authority over internal matters and decisions.  
In line with the fundamental objectives of the Compact, President Mori emphasized the need to “strike a balance” between the funding of social development priorities and assisting in areas that build economic progress to steer budgetary stability and institutional capacity  as the Compact advances closer to 2023.
President Mori recognized the wisdom in the heavy emphasis on health and education sectors as priorities of the Compact. He also urged for a “rebalancing of resources” to take on priorities and activities that build the economy, create sustainable jobs, and improve FSM’ competitive edge in tourism, investment and other markets.

The President also discussed the dilemma over expected shortfall in Compact Trust Fund returns -- a shortfall for which neither Government has put forth any explicit remedy at present.
The trust fund was expected to generate $1.8 billion by 2024 to replace Compact sector grants for the National and State Governments beyond 2023. It is believed that the trust fund will come up short by way over $600 million, leaving a “huge hole” in terms of budgetary capacities.

On the celebratory side, President Mori commended President Barak Obama for taking concrete, significant ways in addressing climate change by investing more in clean renewable energy and taking action on other environment-targeted measures.

Additionally, the President expressed appreciation for the ship-rider program that has strengthened maritime security by allowing FSM maritime personnel to board US Coast Guard vessels operating in the region.
Secretary Jewell led a high-level US delegation to the Pacific Islands Forum with senior officials from the Department of State, Defense (United States Pacific Command), the US Coast Guard, Department of Health and Human Services, the Interior, Energy, the White House, and USAID. 

Accompanying President Mori to the meeting were Secretary of Foreign Affairs Mr. Lorin S. Robert, Senator Yosiwo George from the FSM Congress, Director of SBOC Ms. Evelyn Adolph and Chief of Staff Mr. Leo Falcam Jr.

For more information, email fsmpio@mail.fm.

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