PALAU SENATE REJECTS HOUSE BUDGET BILL

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By Agnes M. Abrau

KOROR, Palau (Palau Horizon, Sept. 30) — The Palau Senate has rejected House of Delegates revisions of a 2006 fiscal budget that is due to take effect tomorrow.

The Senate bill totals $55,697,779 - $300,000 more than the House version.

Numerous amendments made by the House were also ignored by the Senate.

The Senate Committee on Ways and Means and Financial Matters indicated that these changesshould be addressed through a conference committee or through separate legislation.

One of the highlights of the Senate version is its restoration of the presidential reprogramming authority, not only within the executive branch but also in autonomous agencies, including boards, commissions and authorities.

The Senate version would also allow the president to borrow funds not exceeding $750,000 to purchase property for the medical referral office and the Palau Embassy in Manila.

The Senate also wants the president to have the authority to sell a medical referral office and facility in Hawaii and use the proceeds for the expenses involved in having a new office and facility.

The Senate proposed additional funding to several agencies such as the Palau National Museum, the Palau International Coral Reef Center, and the Protected Areas Network Program which was established through RPPL-6-39 two years ago but was never implemented.

The Senate, in addition, appropriated $75,000 for Palau’s contribution to the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

The Senate reinstated the Office of the Special Prosecutor and rejected the House proposal to give the OSP’s responsibilities to the attorney general.

The Senate proposed $100,000 for the Melekeok electric bill, $50,000 for the Conference of the Pacific Island Community and the 34th meeting of the Committee of Governments and Administrations, and $34,000 for the 2nd ConCon Post-Convention Committee.

The Senate reinstated the Palau Visitors Authority’s original proposed budget of $850,000 which the House wanted reduced to $750,000.

The Senate increased the budget of the Palau International Coral Reef Center to $50,000 to defray the cost of hosting the Meeting of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force. The center’s proposed budget is now back to $500,000.

The Senate restored the funding for Workmen’s Compensation worth $41,000, but scrapped the proposed annual base salary schedule for civil service government employees.

The Senate also rejected the House proposal to implement the recommendations of the Ministry of Education’s Food Service Program Study conducted in April 2004.

The senators, moreover, allocated $150,000 for pothole repairs in Koror and Airai.

The Senate has transmitted the budget bill back to the House.

October 3, 2005

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

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