Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Republic of the Marshall Islands provides $20,000.00 as initial financial contribution to the Micronesian Trade Committee

On the second day of the national consultations on ongoing programs and activities of the Micronesian Trade Committee (MTC), Mr. Alfred Alfred, Jr., Secretary of the RMI Ministry of Finance, assisted by Ms. Rebecca Lorennij, Secretary of the Ministry of Resources and Development, handed over a check of $20,000.00 to the MTC Interim Secretariat represented by Mr. Adelman M. Joseph, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Trade, Division of Trade and Investment, FSM Department of Resources and Development. Ms. Lorennij indicated that the contribution demonstrates ownership of the MTC stressing that this sub regional initiative is likely to play an important role in promoting and enhancing trade and economic development in the 3 countries, on account of the declining and imminent termination of the financial assistance under the amended Compact.  Receiving the check, Mr. Joseph indicated that it will complement the FSM’s contribution of $30,000.00 and will serve to support MTC work, including the establishment of a permanent Secretariat to move forward the objectives of the MTC. The handover ceremony was also attended by Mr. Jean Bertrand Azapmo, National Trade Adviser under the Commonwealth Secretariat, and staff of the RMI Division of Trade and Investment.

During the two day national consultations, the private sector strongly supported the MTC initiative and stressed the need to quickly finalize the treaty establishing the MTC Secretariat as a legal entity that will facilitate dialogue between the private sector and the government, support the governments of the three Countries in putting in place the appropriate trade facilitation infrastructure and enabling environment, and undertake supportive activities for the private sector as well as non-governmental organizations. Government officials attending the consultations acknowledged the important role of the private sector as the engine of trade and economic growth. In order to enhance private sector’s involvement in the process of sub-regional trade and economic cooperation and integration led by the MTC, participants recommended among other things that the private sector should be included in the working group set up to discuss the MTC treaty.

The vision of the MTC, which was established in 2008 through a Memorandum of Understanding, is the enhancement of trade and economic cooperation and integration among the FSM, RMI, and Palau with a view to achieve sustainable and equitable socio-economic development and improve the standard and quality of life of their people.

For any information on MTC, contact the RMI Division of Trade and Investment at 625-4020 or the MTC Interim Secretariat at (691) 320-5133.

FSM Tax Reform Executive Steering Committee considers scenarios to address "sunset clause"

L-R: Mr. Palik, Gov. Elimo, Gov. Jackson, and Gov.Ehsa

FSMIS (March 29): On March 26, the Federated States of Micronesian Tax Reform Program Executive Steering Committee (ESC) gathered at the 7-Star Hotel Conference Room in the State of Pohnpei to address  once more the probable fate of the tax reform overhaul endeavor that has taken the five Governments in the Federation on a  bumpy and costly over-10-year road of indecisiveness.

Joining the ESC and the Tax Reform Program Office management at the meeting was the Unified Revenue Administration (URA) Board of Directors to benefit from the briefing in terms of the status of the tax reform project and other matters.

The URA Board is comprised of Mr. Aren Palik (Chairman -- Kosrae), Mr. Winiplat Bisalen (member -- Chuuk), and Ms Maria Laaw (member -- Yap) and Secretary Kensley Ikosia (member-FSM). A replacement for Mr. Thomas Pablo from the State of Pohnpei is yet to be named.

At this meeting, FSM Vice President Alik L. Alik, Chairman of the ESC, with assistance from the Tax Reform Program Office staff, led the discussions on the status of the Revenue Administration Act (RAA) sunset clause with specific regard to two proposed legislations being viewed by the FSM Congress affecting such clause.

The RAA sunset clause essentially stipulates that in order for the tax reform to be implemented, all four States in the FSM must have enacted their Value Added Tax before midnight of March 31, 2014 or else the tax reform project is null and void.

Given the impending March 31st deadline, the ESC considered tenable optional way-forward as recommendation to the FSM President and reaffirmed consensus among the State Governors who comprise the ESC to ensure a solitary front in dealing with stakeholders to the proposed tax system, more immediately the FSM Congress.

The ESC assessed course of actions in the case the deadline is triggered and the project ceases. This includes the timeline for the transitioning from the Customs and Tax Administration Unit under the Department of Finance and Administration to the Unified Revenue Administration as mandated under the FSM URA Act of 2012.

As the States of Yap and Pohnpei have yet to pass their VAT Tax, the meeting provided a forum for the Governors of these respective States to acquaint their peers on the status of such measure at their jurisdictions. Consequently, Governor John Ehsa informed the committee that the VAT bill had been recently recommitted back to the Finance Committee after the Pohnpei State Legislature took a thorough review and sensed the need for more Committee work. While Governor Ehsa remains optimistic, there is no clear indication that the bill will be given blessing by the Pohnpei State Legislature sooner than later.

For the Sate of Yap, Governor Sebastian Anefal had difficulty finding a better way in informing his colleagues that the Yap State Legislature is pretty firm in viewing the tax reform project as inconsistent with certain provisions of the Yap State Constitution. However, staff from the Tax Reform Program Office pointed out that the Yap State Attorney General's Office had issued a legal opinion that contradicts the view maintained by the Yap State Legislature.

Given the uncertainty regarding the fate of the VAT legislations with States of Yap and Pohnpei and based on the wealth of  information in front of the ESC deriving from comparative review of tax regimes throughout the region over a long period of time, the Leaders agreed to maintain a position in favor of the reform as proposed and further agreed to urge Congress to amend relevant parts of the RAA prohibiting the States of Chuuk and Kosrae, along with the FSM National Government, to administer a tax system under the Unified Revenue Administration.  

In addition, Vice President Alik reminded the committee members of the oversight hearing scheduled by the Congressional Committee on Ways and Means in relation to a bill by Senator Isaac Figir proposing to delay the sunset clause to May 2015. The ESC had been made aware of President Manny Mori's preference that the sunset clause is altogether repealed. This position by the President has also been communicated to Congress for their consideration during the on-going Third Special Session.

Vice President Alik urged the ESC members, particular staff of the Tax Reform Program Office, as well as the URA Board members to make themselves available during the oversight hearing with Congress in the afternoon to assist in presenting the ESC recommendations and seek the support of Congress regarding the recommendations.

Additionally, the members were informed of the courtesy call on President Mori the morning of March 27.

The meeting ended with ESC members underscoring their fidelity to the tax reform initiatives and expressing confidence that softening of the  sunset clause will give everyone the chance to progress further together.

For further information, call 320-2548 or email

Thursday, March 27, 2014

FSM Association of Chambers of Commerce needs an Executive Director

FSM Association of Chambers of Commerce

Employment Opportunity

Open:  March 24, 2014 - Close:  April 8, 2014


Position:       FSMACC Executive Director

Salary:          $18,000 to $20,000 Depending on qualifications, if based in Pohnpei

                     $16,000 to $18,000 Depending on qualifications, if based in another State

Duration:      One Year Contract, Subject to Renewal


Duties & Responsibilities:

·         Work to establish the FSMACC as a self-directed, autonomous organization that works closely with the government, private sector, and other partners.

·          Work in a professional manner; follow sound management, administrative and financial procedures, including the keeping of accurate financial records.

·         Implement decisions made by the FSMACC Board, including implementation of the Strategic Plan.

·         Prepare the budget and annual FSMACC work plan for Board approval.

·         Seek technical and financial assistance from donors and partners to enhance the development of the private sector in the FSM.

·         Coordinates the flow of information between State Chambers of Commerce and other partners.

·         Meeting preparation supervision including the necessary technical services, some clerical duties required.

·         Undertake all other duties as determined by the Board of Directors.


The Executive Director reports to the President of the FSMACC Board of Directors, but must also respond to other Board Member inquiries and requests from all Officers.


Required Knowledge, Skills and Experience:

·         Possess an AS or BA Degree in Business Administration, Economics, Political Science or similar fields is desirable, but not required; work experience can be considered as an alternative;

·         At least 3 years of work experience in dealing with private sector, business or private sector development;

·         A detailed knowledge of the private sector in the FSM;

·         Proficiency in public speaking and prior grant writing experience preferred;

·         An excellent command of both spoken and written English, including an the ability to prepare clear, precise briefs and other papers for consideration by the Board of the FSMACC;

·         Self-motivated, with the ability to produce high-quality work under time constraints and work to strict deadlines;

·         Proficient in Microsoft Word, Excel, Power Point, and Microsoft Access; and

·         Possess a pleasant personality, hardworking, result oriented, team player.



Please submit your resume with three (3) Letters of Reference to:

Ms. Cindy Mori (

Secretary, FSMACC Board of Directors


Or to your local FSMACC delegates

President Mori prioritizes Telecommunication Liberalization bill and Tax Reform "sunset clause" for Congress action this March special session

FSMIS (March 27, 2014): Yesterday, March 26, Federated States of Micronesia President Manny Mori emphasized in writing to Speaker Dohsis Halbert his legislative priorities for Congress' deliberation at the Third Special Session of the Eighteenth FSM Congress.

Through the "Committee to Wait on the President" on March 25, Congress indicated its preference to have such written communication for this session as opposed to the norm of a verbal exchange format at the start of session.

In line with the wish of Congress, President Mori informed the Speaker and Members regarding the two priority measures for this session: the Telecommunication Liberalization Bill and the Tax Reform Sunset Clause in the FSM Revenue Administration Act.

"As you are aware, our National Government has been engaged in an on-going effort to improve our telecommunications connectivity throughout the FSM. Central to this effort is a proposed Joint Fiber Optic Cable project connecting Palau and the State of Yap to Guam. This will greatly increase telecommunication capability and capacity, and has obvious positive impacts on both public and private sector development throughout the Micronesian Region."

The President went on to say that the FSM is pursuing a financial package with the World Bank that is contingent upon the liberalization of the telecommunication sector to create an open service provider environment and potentially more service choices for consumers.

In terms of the second measure stressed as a priority for the session, the President wrote, "The "sunset clause" in the FSM Revenue Administration Act will be triggered if Congress does not act before the end of March".

Letting the "sunset clause" to take effect will nullify the tax reform initiative pursued by the FSM and the State Governments for over ten years.

"As you are aware, the fiscal and economic situation facing us in 2023 is our major challenge. The FSM Tax Reform is necessary to improve the fiscal outlook for all of our governments, especially the state governments. The FSM Tax Reform also contains  investment-friendly policies that will improve the business environment in the FSM...I would strongly urge Congressional action to repeal the sunset clause from the Revenue Administration Act so that we can move forward with implementation of the tax reform", the President further emphasized.  

The on-going session started on March 24 and will be on for the duration of ten days, unless  shortened or extended through resolution of Congress.

For further information on this release, call 320-2548 or email


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Congress asks for a "brief letter" from President Mori on priority matters for on-going session

During meeting at the President's Conference Room on March 25
FSMIS (March 25, 2014): One day after the opening of the Third Special Session of the Eighteenth Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia, the "Committee to wait on the President" formally took up the customary task of the Committee noon time today.
Chaired by Senator Peter M. Christian, (Pohnpei) the Congressional Special Committee held a brief meeting with President Manny Mori, along with Vice President Alik L. Alik and cabinet members at the President's Conference Room.
Assigned by Speaker Dohsis Halbert, the Special Committee included as members Senator Joseph J. Urusemal (Yap), Senator Wesley W. Simina (Chuuk) and Senator Yosiwo P. George (Kosrae).
At the start, President Mori welcomed the committee and informed them that the Executive Branch is ready to work with Congress on items target to be addressed during the session.
In response, Chairman Christian conveyed greetings from Congress and thanked the President and Vice President for availing themselves today so that the committee can carry out its duty sooner during the 10-day session.
Senator Christian further expressed that Congress would appreciate getting from the President a formal written communication itemizing priority agenda for Congress focus specifically this special session.
President Mori expressed concurrence to the request and asked whether such practice would now take over the purpose of the "committee to wait" exercise at the start of each session.
In response, Chairman Christian said that Congress anticipates more targeted discussions with particular entities and task-based groups such as the Tax Reform Taskforce and therefore wishes not to engage the President on matters that will be subsequently hashed out with other groups.
Senator Urusemal and Senator George raised some questions relating particularly to the tax reform bill, among them a query on the President's position on the "sunset clause" in the bill.
President Mori highlighted that he would want for Congress to repeal the "sunset clause" from the bill.
The sunset clause sets a deadline by which the State Governments must have enacted their Value Added Tax legislations before the tax reform bill becomes null and void.
Before concluding their meeting, the Leaders agreed that Congress host the President and Vice President on March 31, two days ahead of the end of session, to enable a review of items covered and allow for possible interventions before the session concludes.
For further information, call 320-2548 or email

Leaders call for focus on people and community at FSM Environment Conference

The usually quiet streets of Kosrae Island (population 6,600) were inundated last week by more than 90 participants of the 4th FSM Environment Conference.  The Conference is held every two years to bring together  State and National officials from the Federated States of Micronesia, national, regional and international partners in environment and resource management to review work and identify “Targeted Interventions to Maximize Environmental Benefits”, which is the theme for the Conference.

In opening the biannual Conference, both the Honorable Governor Lyndon Jackson of Kosrae State and Mr. Andrew Yatilman, Director of the FSM Office of Environment and Emergency Management (OEEM) confirmed and reiterated that “people and community are the key cornerstone to the success of environmental and resource management”;  “that the underlying aim of our work must always be to ensure benefits reach our people, especially our most vulnerable people that rely heavily on the environment that we aspire to protect”.

 The focus on people and communities set the scene for the intense two-day Conference which tackled the daunting task of getting differing views and priorities of the four FSM States into a set of targeted environment interventions worthy of adoption by the Conference as one nation.  The final set of interventions addressed such areas as climate change and sea level rise, waste management, natural resource management, genetic resources access and benefit sharing, marine and terrestrial protected areas, water quality, amongst others – all critical issues to communities throughout the highly vulnerable islands within the nation.

 As the Conference concluded, Director Yatilman challenged participants to view the outcomes of this Conference as a baseline -- a starting point from where progress can be measured in two years at the next Environment Conference; for the nation to realize concrete outputs as a result of targeted actions set at the Conference.

 “It was a challenge to discuss the wide range of environment issues facing our States, much less reach consensus on such issues” says Kosrae Island Resource Management Authority Director Robert Jackson, the chairperson of the Conference.   A final outcome document was adopted and will guide focused work of environment managers and partners over the next five years.
For inquiry, contact Mrs. Cindy Ehmes at the OEEM, email

Fisheries meet eyes better monitoring, control, surveillance for Pacific

Tuesday 25 March 2014
FFA HQ, Honiara, SOLOMON ISLANDS. –Fisheries officials from all 17 member countries of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, FFA, are in Honiara this week turning the spotlight on the work they do to monitor, control and keep watch over offshore fishing.
The 17th meeting of the FFA Monitoring Control and Surveillance Working group, or MCS-WG for short, will look at the evolving challenges in the field, and the realities of applying elements of a regional strategy at national level.
Agenda items include the work of fisheries observers on fishing boats in the Pacific, standards and regulations guiding licenses and how FFA members issue them, and sensitivities around sharing sovereign data. Understanding the complexities of maritime boundaries and multi-lateral agreements such as the Niue Treaty on cooperation in surveillance and enforcement are also part of the technical sessions supported by FFA’s Management, Operations and Legal advisors.
Welcoming delegates during yesterday’s opening session, FFA’s Deputy Director-General Wez Norris noted the exciting opportunities ahead for MCS work in the Pacific, especially in the field of emerging and information technologies.
“We are continuing to see a change in monitoring, control and surveillance work in the region, where we continue to see less rogue fishing vessels doing their own thing, and focussing more on vessels that are “legitimate” but perhaps not acting as “legitimately” as they should and could be,” he said.
While issues such as managing information are as critical now as they were when the work of fisheries surveillance began in the 80’s, Norris noted the emerging impacts of electronic reporting and surveillance technologies to the current regional MCS strategy, which also comes under the spotlight this week.
The strategy runs to 2015 and is under review at this meeting to ensure it remains relevant to the MCS realities for Pacific Fisheries. A key part of the self-examination will look at the ongoing process where FFA members can band together on solutions as a key way to overcome issues around capacity at the national level.
For the second time, the MCS meeting will run in parallel with the QUAD operational Working Group. The QUADS comprise the aerial and naval arms of Australia, France, New Zealand and the USA. They provide aerial and surface assets to assist regional surveillance and their parallel sessions this week will dovetail into the MCS program.
Observers at the MCS meeting include Timor Leste, the Pohnpei-based Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, World Wide Fund for Nature, WWF, the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat, InterPol and the Pacific Islands Tuna Industry Association, PITIA.
The meeting, which voted in Vanuatu Fisheries’ Senior Compliance Officer Wesley Obed as Chair, endsthis Friday.--ENDS
CONTACT FFA MEDIA:  Email:    Tel: + 677 7574230 (Mob.)
Lisa Williams-Lahari
Media Officer
Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency
Honiara, Solomon Islands

+677 21124 Ext 296
Mob: +677 7574230
Fax: +677 23995
Skype: lisa.lahari

Monday, March 24, 2014

Third Special Session of the Eighteenth FSM Congress starts in renovated chamber

The Kapilne Church choir singing a number at the start of the opening meeting of the Third Special Session of the Eighteenth FSM Congress in the freshly renovated Congressional Chamber.
FSMIS (March 24, 2014): Federated States of Micronesia President Manny Mori and Vice President Alik Alik attended the opening of the Third Special Session of the Eighteenth FSM Congress this morning.

The meeting started with the blessing of the renovated chamber. The blessing and opening prayer were done by Fr. Julio Angkel, Vicar of the Catholic Vicariate of Pohnpei and Kosrae. A choir from the Kapinle Church added prayerful tunes and songs, including the singing of the FSM National Anthem.

With all fourteen Members of Congress present, Speaker Dohsis Halbert appointed the four At-large senators: Senator Joseph J. 
Urusemal, Senator Peter M. Christian, Senator Wesly W. Simina, and Senator Yosiwo P. George as members of the "Committee to Wait on the President". In general, at the start of session, this special committee formally informs the President of the convening of the legislative body, conveys greetings and possible concerns from Congress, and undertakes discussions with the President on matters he would like address during the session.

Fr. Julio Angkel blessing the renovated facility and the opening of the session
This special session has been described as "very critical" for two major bills that has been in front of Congress for some time namely, the tax reform bill and the telecom reform bill. With regards the latter, Senator Christian informed the body that the Congressional Standing Committee on Transportation and Communication will hold a public hearing tomorrow morning at 8:30 to continue discussions with officials from the FSM Telecom and the FSM Department of Transportation, Communication and Infrastructure regarding the bill.

The tax reform bill has time-sensitive provision pursuant to Public Law 18-16 which requires that all States must have passed their Value Added Tax legislations before midnight of March 31, 2014 or else the reform bill becomes void.

The Meeting document (Order of Business) reflects an extensive registry of communications lodged with Congress along with a bill referral sheet that shows a proposed appropriation bill for $300,000 to provide "funding for the athletes from the four States to participate in the 2014 Micronesian Games, and for other purpose".

Congress went into recess after the formalities were done, setting to resume session tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock.  

The special session is scheduled to conclude on April 2, 2014.

For further information, call FSMPIO at 320-2548 or email

FSM Hosts UN Review Team on Fighting Corruption

FSM DOJ (March 24, 2014): This week of March 24, the Government of the Federated States of Micronesia is hosting a review team of experts from Mongolia and the Republic of Korea, together with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), to consider its implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). In 2012, when the FSM became a State party to this Convention, it also joined the intergovernmental peer review process that currently focuses on Chapter III (criminalization and law enforcement) and Chapter IV (international cooperation) of the Convention. This process will help identify the FSM’s successes and good practices in these areas as well as its challenges.
The review team is expected to meet with a range of stakeholders, including the Department of Justice, National Police (including the Financial Intelligence Unit and the Transnational Crime Unit), Office of the Public Auditor, Department of Foreign Affairs, the judiciary, banking institutions, and others.
Fighting corruption is multi-dimensional and requires the participation of everyone to defeat it. The Government looks forward to receiving the findings and recommendations of the review team to help in the fight against corruption in the FSM.
In addition to being under review, the FSM also participates in the review of other countries. This year, the FSM is participating in the review of Qatar.
The sharing of international experiences is important to understanding and fighting corruption nationally, regionally, and globally. The FSM is proud to be a part of this important process.

Asia Pacific Telecommunity (APT) Telehealth For Woleai Atoll In Yap Now Connected

An ICT Project recently completed in Woleai Atol, Yap. It is a joint multi-partnership and cooperative effort between the Asia Pacific Telecommunity (APT) and Government of Japan (as the donors) and the FSM Department of Transportation, Communication & Infrastructure (as leading agency for the project), FSM Department of Health and Social Affairs, Yap State Health Services and Woleai Municipal Government (as the recipients).

This is a pilot project funded by Japan extra-budgetary contribution to the Asia Pacific Telecommunity to connect Internet via Pactel V-Satellite System to unconnected rural communities in the FSM and Woleai Atoll dispensary was selected as the pilot project site. The project was delayed for over a year due to lack of transportation.

The project implementation Team comprised of Mr. Yosuke Uchiyama (KDDI Foundation, Japan)-Team Leader and ICT Expert, Mr. Wensner David- FSM HESA Representative, Mr. Mark De Orio- IT Specialist and Mr. Paul James-Frequency Manager & Radio Specialist, Division of Communication arrived on Woleai Atoll, 11 February 2014 and after meeting with the island’s traditional and local leaders proceeded and successfully completed the installation of the equipment for the Internet connection at the Woleai Atoll Dispensary.

Part of the project is also to conduct computer trainings to the dispensary staff as well as teachers and the general community. Trainings included basic computer and satellite support & maintenance, Microsoft Office application, skype usage, internet and mail browsing. The project also paid up one year cost for the internet subscription and that the community will assume responsibility after one year. Turned over ceremony to the Yap State Government was conducted on site 22, February and was attended by the community. Equipment donated in support for the project includes:

1.       1.8 Satellite Dish and Peripherals

2.       14 Computers (Desktops & Laptops) and peripherals

3.       1 All-in-one Printer and accessories

4.       1 LED Projector and accessories

5.       1 Digital Camera and accessories

Secretary Francis Itimai, through skype teleconference, thanked the chiefs and people of Woleai for their cooperation and assistance in enabling the project to move ahead. He also stressed the need for popper sense of ownership and care over the technology with careful maintenance practices.

The Team expressed its sincere appreciation to the traditional and local leaders as well as the general population of Woleai Atoll for their warm hospitality and support to the Team to accomplish the project. Woleai Atoll and the community at large are now successfully connected to the world wide web via Woleai Telehealth Center. The Woleai Telehealth Center can be contacted through Skype at woleai.telehealth and

Friday, March 21, 2014

JICA Supports a three-day Immunization Workshop in Pohnpei

In collaboration with the FSM Department of Health and Social Affairs (DH&SA) of the Government of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Project for System Improvement of Expanded Program on Immunization in the Pacific Region (J-PIPS Phase 2) conducted a three days Immunization refresher training workshop at Pohnpei State Hospital from 17th to 19th of March 2014.
The main purpose of the planned training workshop is to focus more on the new updates on immunization schedule, vaccine management, vaccine administration techniques, providing simple education/awareness and overview on vaccine principles, Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI), Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), and also update on vaccine cold chain monitoring and management. Twenty participants were reserved for day 1 and 25 participants for the remaining 2 days.
The participants included certified nurse midwives, clinical nurse supervisors, immunization key staff, and private clinic nurses. The health assistants from dispensaries and the health center were also present.
The facilitators and trainers were from the FSM National and Pohnpei State health department, including National Epidemiologist Dr. Sameer Gopalani, National Immunization Manager  Mrs. Louisa Helgenberger, Immunization Health Educator  Mr. Carter Apaisam, Pohnpei Immunization Coordinator Mr. Spencer Donre, WebIz Registry Coordinator Mr. Augustus Elias, JICA Senior Expert Volunteers on Immunization Prof. Naoki Nakazono, Immunization Supply Specialist Mr. Thomas Donre and former JPIPS expert/ JICA Senior Volunteer Maintenance unit, Mr. Tatsuhiko Tsukakoshi.