SPEAKER SAYS FSM WON’T EXCHANGE SOVEREIGNTY FOR MONEY

News Release

Yap State Government COLONIA, Yap

May 29, 2009

Isaac V. Figir, speaker of the 16h Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia, has issued a strong statement in response to President Emanuel Mori’s proposed budget bill for fiscal year 2010.

The budget covers only those areas funded by local revenues.

The bill proposes the appropriation of $30,459,405 to fund the operations of the three branches, the agencies, the various programs, grants, subsidies and contributions of the national government for fiscal year 2010 which begins on Oct. 1, 2009.

But the current national government budget overview as provided by the Office of Statistics, Budget, Overseas Development Assistance and Compact Management showed that 77 percent of the budget is from domestic sources with the remaining 20 percent plus from the amended Compact.

Mori’s bill does not include items supported by foreign assistance, especially programs that fall under the scope of the FSM’s Compact of Free Association with the U.S.

According to Mori’s transmittal letter, "foreign financial assistance is to be disbursed, not by an FSM congressional appropriation, but by the terms or special nature of the assistance."

The "FSM has unequivocal obligation to conform to the provisions of the amended Compact and subsidiary agreements," Mori said.

"Hence, all laws in the FSM, including budget appropriation act, must be in harmony with the treaty," his letter concluded.

But Figir said the FSM will not compromise its sovereignty for money.

He said Mori’s position that the FSM Congress has the power to appropriate only local revenues "is a position by the executive that a enormous significance."

The speaker added, "This is also a position that [the FSM] Congress cannot condone. This means that everything that [the FSM] Congress has done for the past 30 years, ever since we established constitutional government, was wrong. To say that [the FSM] Congress can only appropriate local revenues takes us back to the days of the Trust Territory."

Figir said the FSM Congress represents the people of the federation.

"The constitutional mandate of [the FSM] Congress is to control the purse string of the nation on behalf of the people. Yet, the executive now tells us foreign donors do not want us to control the spending of their funds. That cannot be. To me, donors to the FSM will think twice about giving assistance to the FSM if they knew that the people of the FSM has no say in how the money will be used."

Figir said Mori’s position "represents the most egregious attempt at limiting the power of [the FSM] Congress since this country began. It is un-democratic and does not make any sense."

He added, "I urge the executive to think again. And if there are any foreign donors out there who think that the people of the FSM should not have any say in how their funds should be spent, I urge them to take their money elsewhere. This is a question of the sovereignty of this nation. We will not compromise our sovereignty for some money. And shame to anyone in this government who would be inclined to do so."

Chairman Peter Sitan of the Congressional Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations said Mori’s position will seriously impact the state governments which derive more than 50 percent of their funds from outside sources.

According to Sitan, for Mori to "think that legislative bodies of the states don’t have authority over funding for their people, has a potential to be a serious problem."

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