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By Dionesis Tamondong

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (May 4, 2001 - Pacific Daily News)---Guam’s delegate Robert Underwood has asked a congressional subcommittee for more federal assistance to compensate for the decrease in compact-impact appropriations to Guam for next fiscal year.

President George Bush’s Fiscal 2002 budget bill would allocate $4.58 million in compact-impact money to Guam -- a decrease of $5 million from last year’s budget, Underwood said.

"This budget decrease is most unfortunate because it does not meet the immediate and unique needs of the territory," Underwood said. "It indicates that perhaps the federal government does not place sufficient importance to insular issues."

During a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing yesterday, Underwood asked for an additional $5.8 million to reimburse the local government for providing services to immigrants from the Freely Associated States and to fund capital improvement projects, the Guam War Claims Review Commission and a regional consortium aimed at the conservation of coastal environments and marine resources.

Underwood told the committee that the budget of the Department of Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs, which is in charge of territorial issues, has decreased while Guam continues to be burdened by administering educational and social services mandated by compacts of free association with the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

Guam only started to receive compact impact funding in fiscal 1996. During fiscal 1996 to 1999, Guam received $4.58 million annually from the Department of Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs budget.

The budget increased during President Clinton’s administration, with Guam receiving $7.58 million in 2000 and $9.58 million in 2001.

According to Governor Carl Gutierrez’s compact-impact report to the Interior Department, federal treaties with the island nations of Micronesia have cost Guam about $150 million since the compacts began, with $31 million being spent for 2000.

For additional reports from the Pacific Daily News, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Pacific Daily News (Guam).

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