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EDITORIAL Saipan Tribune Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands November 16, 1999

The Issue: The expenditure of compact grant funds for superficial jobs in government warrants total revamping.

Our View: The national agenda must focus on wealth and jobs creation. Old paradigms that everything is government must change.

We've listened intently and trailed the ongoing negotiations between the U.S. and the Freely Associated States, specifically, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). If there's anything that stood out very clearly, it's the expenditure of grant funds to bolster a larger government payroll over wealth and jobs creation. Thus, the obvious lack of revenue generating economic activities capable of supporting a large bureaucracy.

The challenge to FSM leadership lies in changing old paradigms (approaches) from the old TTG (Trust Territory Government) mentality that someone would generously continue defraying the bloated payroll of unproductive people in the public sector. Leadership must settle down to a reality check on government expenditure, i.e., the cost of the central government and national congress and resolve to downsize them. Other than education, health and public safety, other departments and agencies must be trimmed to the hilt. This should enable the national government to save money for that rainy day or funnel it into entrepreneurship programs.

Wealth and jobs creation should, therefore, be the new focus of attention in the next millennium by leadership. It must look from within to determine what policies have stifled expansion of current investments or run contrary to the collective commitment of the FSM to lure lasting investments. The ability to break the shell of unjustified insecurity on, i.e., use of local land for investments would definitely open the floodgates to luring lasting investments that create wealth and jobs for the citizenry. Coupled with stable investment policies, it should assist the FSM exit the rut of near total reliance on compact funds that superficially create a false economy paid for by taxpayers from some far away land.

Furthermore, investors aren't necessarily interested in owning land. Their interest is focused on cheap labor and stable investment policies. (The FSM must) meet them halfway by scrapping provincial insecurity that has done nothing but build reliance on government whose coffers have shrunk beyond our wildest imaginings. In short, the cargo plane syndrome must go!

The journey into wealth and jobs creation isn't anything new as the entire global village braces for the challenges of the next millennium. It's all a matter of building up local resolve to change old paradigms in favor of economic programs that will eventually provide the funds for basic public services throughout the FSM. That it involves a process is more the reason for FSM leadership to converge and trump out its cards on luring lasting investments. That pot of gold is yours only if some hard decisions are made to focus on private sector development over an unproductive public sector. We're convinced you should take the lead to reinvent an unworkable legacy that government is the Holy Grail to attain prosperity.

For additional reports from The Saipan Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Saipan Tribune.

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