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Toribiong hopes for funding extension

KOROR Palau (Palau Horizon, June 29, 2009) — The budget for Palau Compact of Free Association funding extension is now before the United States Congress.

President Toribiong [said] during a briefing with members of the Congress, governors and traditional chiefs that the budget is now with the Congress under the Department of Interior request.

The president said that if passed, Palau will be receiving the same level of compact funding and remain eligible for federal grants in its FY 2010 budget, while talks continue on funding status beyond 2010.

Palau hopes to convince the United States to give Palau the same level of funding that was afforded to the country during the last fifteen years of the Compact which is about $18 million yearly including federal grants.

The president said it will also be requesting that the U.S. grant authority to reinvest the Compact investment fund for the next 15 years without delving into it as stipulated by the Compact.

[PIR editor’s note: According to the U.S. Office of Insular Affairs, Palau’ total budget in fiscal year 1999 was US$71 million. The operating budget was $57 million with the remaining $14 million for capital improvement projects. Out of the $71 million budget, $32 million (approximately 45 percent) came from Compact Funds. The Compact funds came with the stipulation that part of them be put aside each year to create a trust fund meant to generate income for the country.]

The Palau team recently returned from a trip to Washington D.C.

Representing Palau at the trip were Health Minister Stevenson Kuartei, Palau Ambassador to the United States Hersey Kyota, Palau Ambassador to the United Nations Stuart Beck, and consultants Haruo Wilter, Kevin O Keefe, Jeff Farrow and Kevin Kirk.

Toribiong opened the briefing by thanking the leadership and went on to state that Ambassador Joshua Koshiba and his team are presently working on the details of the review with United States Representatives and he is optimistic of the outcome that will most likely allow us to negotiate the terms of the Compact.

A formal Compact review discussion is scheduled in Hawaii on July 8.

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