FSM President Recommends Easing Process To Amend Constitution

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Mori hopes country will accept direct election of President

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, June 4, 2014) – The president of the Federated States of Micronesia, Manny Mori, says he will propose a major amendment to the island nation’s constitution before he leaves office.

He is recommending the lowering of the current thresh-hold of 75 percent to 66 percent in the four FSM states to amend the constitution.

Mori, in his last address to the nation on May 29, said the proposed amendment is in line with government’s plan to prepare the small Pacific Island nation for 2023, when the financial contribution from the Compact of Free Association with the United States comes to an end.

"The loose federation concept of government has outlived its national purpose. For the past 35 years we have fallen short of making sound decisions on important matters based on the nation’s genuine interests.

"After 35 years, it is time for our people to directly elect the president and vice president. This change will promote more constructive engagement between all branches of government and strengthen our democracy," Mori told the nation.

He said the solution to these fundamental issues requires amendments to the constitution and the need to educate the people of the proposed reforms it wants to undertake in the coming years.

A bill to amend the constitution to go before voters in March 2015 is currently before the FSM Congress.

In his address, Mori sounded his concern that the Compact Trust Fund set up to provide government with ongoing source of revenue after 2023 will be short by more than $600 million.

"Recently the 2023 Planning Committee completed consultations with all state governments and the private sector," he said. "The goal of the consultations was to identify structural reforms and projects needed to stimulate growth in the private sector."

Mori said the committee has until October this year to come up with an action plan that will provide a roadmap that will accelerate growth of the economy.

The current FSM Trust Fund has a balance of $21 million.

"If we continue to invest $5 million into the fund each year for the next eight years, we can achieve our target balance of more than $60 million by 2023," said Mori.

His government has been engaged in four key policies to strengthen the economic foundation of FSM. These are the completion of tax reforms in all the four FSM states, decrease in fossil fuel dependency through increased use of renewable energy, implementation of telecommunications liberalization and assistance to the private sector

The FSM has an economic relationship with the U.S. as a Freely Associated State under the terms of a Compact of Free Association that was signed into law in 1986 and was amended and renewed in 2003. U.S. financial assistance expires in 2023.

As a Freely Associated State, the FSM has received millions of U.S. tax dollars to support and develop various sectors of their economy, including health, education, infrastructure, business and the environment. In return, the U.S. has full international defense authority for the islands and their territorial waters.

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