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HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, June 19) – Palau will get US$1 million of technical assistance funding from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to assist the Pacific island nation update its master development plan.

"The update of the Master Development Plan, initially prepared in 1995, will be managed by the Government of Palau," said Philip Erquiaga, Director General of ADB's Pacific Department. "ADB's assistance will focus on widespread community consultation and technical expertise in selected areas."

The updated National Master Development Plan is also intended to assist in negotiations for a new Compact of Free Association between the governments of Palau and United States.

The Compact reflects the strong historical ties and future development partnership between the two governments.

The current Compact is due to expire in 2009 and negotiations between the Palau and the United States on a replacement agreement are due to start later this year.

"There are widespread concerns within Palau about a significant reduction in U.S. funding under the new Compact, and the impact large fiscal adjustments would have on achieving sustainable development outcomes," Erquiaga said.

"ADB's assistance is aimed at working with the government and people of Palau to address these issues, including mapping out a path for economic growth which is sensitive to Palau's culture and environment as well as the delivery of affordable government services including public infrastructure."

This is the first technical assistance grant provided directly to Palau by the ADB since it became a member in 2003. The grant will assist the Government of Palau in achieving sustainable economic growth through improved economic and infrastructure management.

[PIR editor’s note: According to the ADB website, the organization has grown from an initial membership of 31 in 1966 to a total of 67 region and non-regional member countries. Georgia is the latest country to gain membership on February 2, 2007.]

The assistance is expected to be carried out over a period of 22 months starting in August.

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