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MAJURO, Marshall Islands (July 13, 2001 – Marshall Islands Journal)---Marshall Islands officials took time late last week to take a long-term view of development needs and directions in the country, with the presentation of "Vision 2018 – The Strategic Development Plan Framework."

President Kessai Note, most of the Cabinet, many senators and top level government officials were in attendance Thursday at the Nitijela as a panel gave an overview of the 108 page document that was in its fifth draft.

Vision 2018 notes in its introduction that it is a "broad vision of our nation as to where we would like to be in the year 2018 in terms of sustainable development."

It was developed out of the National Economic and Social Summit in March, small working groups, and consultations with numerous agencies.

It is only the initial, and largely a broad-brush stroke, plan of action that is to be followed shortly by:

· Master plans focusing on major policy areas.

· Action plans of ministries and statutory agencies.

Both of these latter documents will be aimed at the implementation of the Vision 2018 plans.

Nine master plans are to be developed in the following areas as the next step to implement the Vision 2018 document:

· Human resource development;

· Outer islands development;

· Culture and traditions;

· Environment;

· Resources and development;

· Information technology;

· Private sector development;

· Infrastructure;

· Tourism.



By Giff Johnson

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (July 6, 2001 – Marshall Islands Journal)---President Kessai Note announced a Cabinet shakeup this week Monday, the first of his 18-month-old administration.

Highlighting the switch of Ministers is the move of Alvin Jacklick from Foreign Affairs to the troubled Ministry of Health and Environment, and Gerald Zackios from assisting the President to Foreign Affairs to head the Compact of Free negotiations with the U.S.

Tadashi Lometo has been moved from Health to being Minister in Assistance to the President.

President Note told the Journal Tuesday that he wanted to get "new ideas and new blood" into the two ministries as reason for the shuffle.

The move that was approved by Note last Friday, but formally announced and effective Monday, had been anticipated for some weeks.

The Ministry of Health had developed into an ongoing black eye for the current administration and was clearly in need of high level troubleshooting and advocacy. Significantly too, Health, along with Education, is the priority focus for U.S. negotiators and funding in the future. By moving Jacklick to Health, and with Wilfred Kendall in Education, the Marshall Islands is sending a strong commitment to improve message to the U.S. at a critical time.

Meanwhile, the shift of Zackios to Foreign Affairs puts a person with a strong legal background (as former Attorney General) into the Compact negotiating role.

One of the reasons that Note had named Jacklick to Foreign Affairs originally is that he is a prominent Kwajalein landowner, and the Marshall Islands government, obviously, needs Kwajalein leadership organized and on-board as it enters negotiations with the U.S. But, until recent weeks, Kwajalein has largely been a source of friction for the government, adding an element of uncertainty as the government approached the talks with the U.S.

Zackios’ appointment should be well received across the board, from Kwajalein to Washington, and give a boost to the Marshalls.

Majuro Senator Alik Alik, who often takes on the role as spokesman for the governing party, called Note’s three-Minister changer a "bold" move, commenting that this is likely to be only the first of a series of shuffles in Cabinet portfolios that could take place later in the year.

"The President made a tough decision," he said. "But it’s better to make a difficult decision than take no action and not move forward."

He described the President’s move a wake-up call for everyone in government, adding that during a day-long party caucus meeting on Monday he told other Ministers and Senators present that "the President is doing his job. Now it’s your turn."

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

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