PALAU SEEKS U.S. SUPPORT FOR PROGRAMS, PROJECTS

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By Agnes M. Abrau

KOROR, Palau (Palau Horizon, Jan. 9) — Palau Senator Alfonso Diaz and Delegates Okada Techitong and Noah Idechong are asking the U.S. Congress for support and technical assistance on various programs, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service loans for the Palau National Communications Corp. and the Palau Public Utilities Corp., as well as the extension of Pell Grants to Palau citizens.

The lawmakers’ requests were made during their talks with at least seven U.S. Senate and House of Representatives staffers last year.

Diaz submitted a summary report about their meeting recently.

Diaz, with Techitong and Idechong, who is the chairman of the House Committee on Resources and Development, met with senior staffers of the U.S. Congress on Nov. 5 last year.

Various issues were raised during the meeting, according to Diaz’s report.

The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives Committee staffers included Allen Stayman and Josh Johnson of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Jurisdiction; Todd Willens, majority senior policy director of the House Committee on Resources Jurisdiction; Chris Foster and Anthony Babauta of the House Resources Committee; and Jennifer Koss, a staffer of Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii.

Diaz, in his report, said they requested that the U.S. government write off the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service $32 million loan to PNCC.

According to Diaz, the congressional staffers said they will "look into the situation and recommend the right course of action to the U.S. lawmakers."

The three Palau lawmakers also asked for a congressional review of National Exchange Carrier Association’s position regarding the Freely Associated States — Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.

They requested the U.S. government to provide technical assistance and possible funding for oil exploration within Palau’s territorial jurisdiction.

Also discussed was Palau’s US$35 million loan application with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service for a new power plant.

January 9, 2006

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