Thursday, October 3, 2013

FSM Congress ends session, other measures in suspense

FSMIS (October 3, 2013): The last couple of days before the FSM Congress adjourns sine die, some of the most engaging debate took place with many Members sitting on the fence on whether to adopt two loaded resolutions relating to a grant from the World Bank and the proposed Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) Policy. Discussion on the World Bank grant spilled into the exchange of views on the proposed bill to drastically reconfigure the telecommunication sector in the FSM.

The World Bank grant resolution, C.R. No. 18-37, was submitted to Congress in July. The grant is in the amount of $500,000 to be used to “strengthen the legal, regulatory and institutional framework to provide a foundation for improved access and affordability of telecommunication services and increased private sector investment in the telecommunication sector”.  Some members wanted to better understand how the grant would be utilized and which agencies or institutions would play a role in implementing its purposes.

On the ODA Policy, C.R. No. 18-24, submitted to Congress during its First Regular Session in May, some Members felt more time was needed to fully grasp all its ramifications. The Members holding the longest tenure in Congress seemed skeptical about the need for such a policy, saying that the FSM Government has been accessing overseas assistance without such policy the past thirty-five years. Others pointed out that the FSM has reached a point in its development where having such policy is the most responsible approach to ODA.

After concluding its work on the fiscal year 2014 budget and saving the 10-year worth of work in the tax reform project by extending the deadline clause to March 31, 2014, Congress adopted a hoist of grant resolutions for various departments and offices ranging in amounts from $4,000 to over $200,000. However, Congress decided to park the grant resolution for a new ship from the Government of Japan in the amount of approximately $11,240,511.
Congress adjourns sine die today.

A more detail table on measures undertaking this session would be provided later.

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