Palau President Makes All Out Push To Approve Fiber Optic Cable

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Remengesau urges Senate to approve communication plans

KOROR, Palau (Island Times, Aug. 13, 2015) – In a last ditch effort to salvage the fiber optic cable project, President Remengesau Jr. on Tuesday, August 11 wrote Senator Joel Toribiong, Chairman of Senate Committee on Energy, Public Utilities and Infrastructure (EPUI), seeking a meeting to discuss Belau Submarine Cable Corporation bill.

Citing that securing a fiber optic cable remains a high priority for future development and necessary for advancement of health, education, tourism and other sectors, President Remengesau sought a meeting with the EPUI Committee to discuss their concerns and to mutually agree on the best way forward.

With the August 31st deadline for Palau to commit to the "once in a lifetime opportunity" with SEA-US Cable Corporation looming, President Remengesau is leaving no stone unturned trying to get the legislation in place. SEA-US laying cable from Southern Philippines to Guam, have given Palau an opportunity to "branch-off" from this cable but with deadline to commit at the end of this month. This opportunity will save millions compared to building a cable by ourselves and connecting to Guam, according to the President in his letter to Senator Joel Toribiong of EPUI Committee of the Senate.

In response to President Remengesau’s request, Senator Toribiong declined the invitation and asked to reschedule for another time. In his letter of response to President Remengesau’s request for a meeting, Senator Toribiong stated, "I do wish to advise that the Senate has begun conducting hearings on the FY 2016 Annual Budget…..this will require my attendance for the greater part of this week as Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Grant Assistance, Appropriations and other Financial Matters to which this proposed budget has been assigned."

Submarine fiber optic cable project for Palau has been long in the making. Options and opportunities have been discussed and explored by three different Presidents’ administrations, (Nakamura, Remengesau, Toribiong and Remengesau again). This project had always been faced with two major obstacles, funding and distance from major submarine cable routes. Now, almost 20 years later, a tremendous opportunity has presented itself. A funding agency have pre-approved funding for cable project for Palau and FSM and a multinational cable consortium is laying a cable across Palau’s doorstep and offering an opportunity to connect to them. And we have declined all the opportunities in favor of FY 2016 Budget hearings.

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