Tuesday, January 14, 2014

President Mori signs FSM Climate Change Act and concludes review of ten recent public laws

FSMIS (January 9, 2014): After the Federated States of Micronesia Eighteenth Congress passed a number of Congressional Acts during the last special session, President Manny Mori took the time to review the Acts during the Christmas and New Year season and made his decisions.

First among the list is Congressional Act No. 18-25 which was signed into law as Public Law No. 18-24 on December 13, 2013. The Act is an appropriation of $225,000 to assist with humanitarian relief efforts for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Republic of the Philippines,Republic of Palau, the FSM State of Yap, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. President Mori wrote to Speaker Doshis Halbert regarding the appropriation stating: "I am pleased that Congress has taken the initiative to appropriate funding for humanitarian assistance to the affected neighboring areas as a result of typhoon Haiyan which has swept through these areas and has left impact and devastation to the essential services, property and life".

On January 2, 2014, President Mori signed into law an Act that clarifies the modifications to the Compact Funds distribution formula among the National Government and the State Governments as previously modified by Public Law No. 18-12. This new law, PL No. 18-25, specifies the distribution formula does not apply to the Supplemental Education Grant under the Compact.

On the same day, President Mori approved Congressional Act No. 18-32, which has become Public Law 18-26. This law appropriates an amount of $1,889,072 as a supplemental budget for some of the budget line items requested by the President before the 2nd Special Session started. The amount also includes $200,000 evenly split among the Congressional delegation offices to fund contractual services. A provision in the law allows up to $25,000 from this Delegation Offices' supplemental budget to be used for Members' representation funds "at the discretion of each office".

In his transmittal letter to Speaker Halbert regarding the supplemental budget, President Mori expressed that he signed the legislation "with reservation". The appropriation "lacks the flexibility to provide funding for targeted projects that will accelerate economic growth in the near term" , he stated, and ignores other funding requests for what the President considers as "critical priorities", especially in preparation for expected fiscal challenges in fiscal year 2023. He also pointed out that allowing funds to be "discretionarily utilized" for purposes other than its specific use lacks transparency.

On January 3, 2014, President Mori signed into law Congressional Act No. 18-24, which has become Public Law No. 18-34 and is known as the Federated States of Micronesia Climate Change Act. The Act creates legal obligations for departments and offices in the implementation of the Integrated Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change Policy promulgated in December 2009 and further strengthens the mainstreaming of activities and policies in implementing climate change and disaster management framework of actions.

"I thank Congress for passing the Federated States of Micronesia Climate Change Act. Establishing a national policy in the area of climate change is essential in protecting our nation and furthering the interests and well-being of our people."

Finally, seven public laws were transmitted to Congress on January 6, 2014, which have become laws pursuant to Article IX Section 22 of the FSM Constitution.

These laws are P.L. 18-27, P.L. 18-28, P.L. 18-29, P.L. 18-30, P.L. 18-31, P.L. 18-32 and P.L. 18-33.

All of the laws concern "public projects and social programs" whose funds were previously appropriated by Congress. Specifically, the seven laws make further changes to previous appropriations in terms of their use and allottees in certain States.

In his transmittal letter, President Mori alluded to some "common characteristics" among the measures that weaken clear justifications and make funds tracking and project implementation difficult.

"It would be most helpful if Congress would set a policy limiting to a maximum of only three amendments per Act in order to avoid problems" -- the problems outlined refer to repeated changes to the initial appropriation laws.

The President concluded the Executive Branch's work on the new laws and transmitted them to Congress.

For further information, call 320-2548 or email fsmpio@mail.fm.

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