GUAM’S UNDERWOOD GOES TO BAT FOR MARSHALLS AND FSM

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GUAM’S UNDERWOOD GOES TO BAT FOR MARSHALLS AND FSM

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (July 19, 2000 – Marshall Islands Journal)---While the Marshalls and FSM were blasted by some Congressional leaders and a GAO audit late last month, Foreign Secretary Marie Maddison said the Washington hearing ended on a much more positive note.

(SEE: TRANSCRIPT: A Hearing On U.S. Assistance To Micronesia And The Marshall Islands: U.S. House International Relations Committee)

Maddison, who spent much of her time on damage control at and following the highly charged hearing, said simply, "The Marshalls needs to do a lot of awareness raising."

Guam Congressman Robert Underwood came to the rescue of the Marshall Islands and FSM during the Congressional hearing in Washington in which the islands faced a barrage of criticism over government spending – but weren’t allowed to speak.’’

Underwood’s comments, Maddison said, helped to underline the point that after 40 years of non-development by the U.S., how can anyone expect quick development in the islands?

"The expectations on both sides were too high," she said. Maddison said that the GAO’s point about poor management capability in the islands is generally true, but added that many of the financial decisions of the government were based on the type of advice that the Marshalls received.

While subcommittee chairman Rep. Doug Bereuter strongly attacked the Marshalls’ and FSM’s use of money and said funding levels should be drastically cut in Compact II, other Congressional officials helped put the debate on a more realistic level, she indicated. This included an appreciation of the importance of the Kwajalein missile range and of the U.S. presence in the Marshalls and FSM generally, she said.

The hearing ended on a positive note, she said. The question is to see what can be done in the next 15 years to move the Marshalls toward self-sufficiency, she said.

The Marshall Islands Journal, Box 14, Majuro, Marshall Islands 96960 E-mail: journal@ntamar.com  Subscriptions (weekly): 1 year US $87.00; international $213.00 (air mail).

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