PALAU SENATE PANEL CRITICIZES PRESIDENT REMENGESAU

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By Jowie C. Aquino For Marianas Variety

KOROR, Palau (June 3, 2002 - Palau Horizon)---The Senate Committee on Ways and Means had criticized President Tommy Remengesau’s administration for attributing the current economic situation to the tragic Sept. 11 events and the reduction in "sin" tax rates.

The panel blames the "continuous hiring of government employees" for "aggravating" the government’s cash flow problem.

The committee, in a report, stated that the continuous hiring of employees is negating the efforts to streamline the government and cut down its expenses.

"There are approximately 100 newly hired government employees since the end of last fiscal year. As of Feb. 7, 2001, the annual base salaries for government workers were approximately $24.6 million and as of May 21, 2002, the total annual base salaries exceeds $26 million. This translates into approximately $1.5 million in additional salaries, including raises. In short, a significant portion of the government’s cash shortfall can be attributed to our bulging government," the committee said.

The committee said continuous hiring also contradicts the law since the president "is responsible for reducing the number of government employees to 6 percent" of the country’s total population.

For additional reports from the Marianas Variety, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/ Marianas Variety.

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