PALAU LAWMAKERS OK $100,000 FOR SEAPORT STUDY

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Goal is to secure $40 million China loan

KOROR, Palau (Palau Horizon, Sept. 8, 2010) – Majority of the senators voted during the recent budget deliberation to appropriate $100,000 to be given to a firm which has been allegedly chosen to conduct a feasibility study report to enable the government to get a $40 million loan from a Chinese company to develop the Ngardmau port.

Sen. Mark Rudimch, chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means said the amendment to appropriate $100,000 was proposed on the floor by Sen. Hokkons Baules

The money was taken out from the proposed budget for the Palau Visitor’s Authority.

"Discussions went on about the purpose of the $100,000 and the possibility of qualifying for a bigger loan for the development of the Ngardmau Port. The $100,000 is supposedly to purchase a "feasibility study report" for the Ngardmau Free Trade Zone area," Rudimch said.

The line in the proposed budget measure appropriating the money however did not specifically state the purpose.

Under the procurement law, the project should undergo the bidding process.

It is also not clear whether the Ngardmau Free Trade Zone is exempted from bidding requirements.

According to a recent trip report submitted by Sens.Baules and Joel Toribiong said that a certain Truk Pacifica Development Corporation will conduct the feasibility study report.

[PIR editor’s note: According to the company’s website, Truk Pacific Development Corporation is based in Kawit, Cavite, Philippines and is "an independent multi-discipline trading, management and development firm, duly registered in accordance with Philippine law."]

The report said that in order for China Shenyang International, Economic & Technical Cooperation to grant a loan of $40 million to develop the Ngardmau port into an international commercial port within the area in Ngardmau State, a feasibility study of the project is required.

The said Chinese firm had granted a similar loan to Papua New Guinea in the amount of $90 million.

Earlier an article from a Taiwanese newspaper reported that the Taiwan opposition Democratic Progressive Party warned Palau of making such a deal since it could be a start of a diplomatic relationship between China and Palau.

The said proposed deal has caused controversy among Taiwan lawmakers.

Taiwan lawmaker Chen Ying stated in the article since diplomatic relations between countries is often preceded by economic cooperation, Taiwan should be especially careful about this development.

Palau is among the six Pacific nations which has a diplomatic relationship with Taiwan.

Baules and Toribiong made the trip to the Philippines in June to meet Narciso Cauguiran the Chinese firm’s regional agent.

According to the trip report, Cauguiran is currently the Special Economic Adviser to President Toribiong.

The trip report further stated that the two senators is in full support of the project

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