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By Bernadette H. Carreon

KOROR, Palau (Palau Horizon, Nov. 4) – The Palau government now has a budget for fiscal year 2006 after President Tommy Remengesau signed into law a US$55,569,179 financial package on Sunday.

The national legislature, the Olbiil Era Kelulau, passed the budget on Saturday night after a compromise was reached between the lawmakers and Remengesau following long hours of discussions on various policy concerns that were earlier raised by the executive branch.

The legislature agreed to drop the budget provision that calls for the removal of the special prosecutor by a single "no confidence" vote of the House of Delegates and the Senate.

The new budget also eliminated the proposed amendment to the law regarding misconduct in public office.

The president lauded the legislators for deleting numerous provisions in the proposed budget that created obligations in the executive branch without appropriate funding.

Remengesau also applauded the legislation for revising the Public Service System Reclassification by delaying its implementation,

The lawmakers passed an amendment to include the pay scales for the president and other government officials.

Regarding the president’s reprogramming authority, the national legislation agreed to Remengesau’s recommendation to change the 10 percent limit to 15 percent.

Remengesau said the new budget gives him a limit of 15 percent in reprogramming funds "in," and 10 percent to reprogram funds "out."

In signing the budget measure, the president line-item reduced some of spending items which reduced the water and sewer operations budget and the House of Delegates’ funding level by US$200,000.

The State Block Grants funding and the budget appropriated for the Pension Plan were also decreased.

The president’s line-item reductions totaled US$746,500 which, he said, is still above the spending limit established.

"It is therefore essential that we work together to identify quality and long-term revenue generation measures. This is especially true considering the program needs that will have to be addressed in the near future through a supplemental budget," the president said in a letter to the national legislation.

The budget was passed before the 30-day continuing resolution lapsed.

Remengesau expressed his appreciation to lawmakers for their willingness to settle their differences regarding the budget bill.

"It took long hours of discussion (but) we (have) come into an understanding," Remengesau said.

He added, " if there is a will, there is a way to resolve the differences."

Senate Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Alan Seid said his colleagues and the president should be applauded for their dialogue that led to the signing of the budget bill.

"We hope that the spirit of the dialogue will continue throughout the year," Seid said.

November 4, 2005

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