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PALIKIR, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia (March 26, 2001 – FSM Information Service)---The Fourth Special Session of the Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia convened last week, March 19-23, after being postponed because of the Pohnpei airport shut-down.

The runway closure, due to a freight plane landing accident, prevented a majority of Congress members from reaching Pohnpei in time to open the special session. Originally called to meet the second week of March, President Leo A. Falcam rescheduled the session to instead "convene on Monday, March 19, 2001, for the same period of five days."

At the opening of the special session, Speaker Jack Fritz’s congratulated and welcomed back all members of Congress.

The first matter attended to was the swearing in of Marcellino Umwech for the vacated seat of the late Senator Nishima Yleizah of Chuuk. Under the Constitution, a Congress seat vacated within 12 months of its term may be filled by a nomination from the seat holder’s state governor.

Umwech was nominated by Chuuk Governor Ansito Walter. Having been nominated, Umwech had to be reviewed by the Credentials Committee, after which he was then administered the Oath of Office by Speaker Fritz.

Umwech was then inducted Monday as a full-fledge member of the 11th FSM Congress.

The other main item on opening day was the appointment of a Committee to wait on the President, chaired by Floor Leader Joseph Urusemal. All other items were deferred to the next day.

The following day, 10 Congressional Bills were assigned to various committees for action:

Two of the bills aim to amend the FSM Code, Titles 11 and 12, for technical corrections and clarifications.

Another bill would amend Title 17 to require distribution of Emergency regulations to Congress

Two other bills proposed to amend Title 54, to exempt from gross revenue tax the sale of fish by foreign or domestic fishing vessels to processing facilities in the FSM and the sale of bait fish to foreign or domestic fishing vessels and to clarify when goods imported for subsequent export become subject to the import duty.

Two more bills would amend Public Law No. 11-54, to remove a restriction on the National Election Office funding, appropriate the sum of $150,000 to supplement funds appropriated for third and fourth quarter housing allowances, and reduce the amount of funds appropriated for FSM¹s membership fee in the UN.

The final three bills include one to authorize the FSM to borrow $12,017,158 from the Asian Development Bank, to fund private sector development programs and projects.

Another bill would establish a retirement program for FSM employees and appropriate $1,000,000 to provide initial funding for the program.

The final bill would appropriate $9,495 to provide funding for the Pohnpei Community Action Agency.

The other matter assigned for action was Congressional Resolution No. 11-99- nomination of Ieske Iehsi as Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, which was assigned to the Committee of External Affairs.

The Fourth Special Session of the Eleventh Congress concludes on Friday, March 23.

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