Palau House Of Delegates Approves Senate Budget

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$84 million for FY 2016 close to President’s proposal

By Jose Rodriguez T. Senase

KOROR, Palau (Island Times, Sept. 15, 2015) – The House of Delegates (HOD) has approved the Senate version of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 unified national budget.

The House approval of the budget came a day after the Senate approved $83,747,500 appropriation for FY 2016 on Friday.

The swift approval of the Senate version by the House came as a surprise for many, as it was expected that a conference committee will be set up to iron out differences between the two sides.

But the House approval of the Senate budget version came with some changes.

President Remengesau earlier proposed an FY 2016 budget in the amount of $83.7 million. When it was submitted to the House in mid-July this year, the House increased the appropriation by $1.09 million.

Of the increase, state block grants got more than $500,000. The House also added appropriations for special projects such as funding for Peleliu boat repair, construction of power and waterlines from Ngkeklau to Ngerdibsiu in Ngaraard, power and waterline to new Ngiwal housing area, construction of road to Todai at Ngarchelong, Bai ra Oldiang and Bai ra Ngerkesou, and Shimizu Bridge in Ngchesar, among others.

But the Senate later removed appropriations for most of these special projects. The Senate reduced the amount for state block grants to their original amounts.

The changes made by the House to the Senate version centered on reducing the amount or zeroing out some budget activities affecting the Ministry of State, Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Industries, and Commerce, and the Ministry of Health, Palau Housing Authority, among others.

The budget agreed upon by both houses of the OEK recommended that a request for additional $10,000 to create a revolving fund for the Passport Office be taken up in future appropriations.

The same recommendation was issued for an MPIIC request for additional $20,000 for Small Business Development Center to repair the collapsed floor and repair termite infestation damage.

The OEK also recommended for the revisit of an MOH request for additional funding in the amount of $458,010. The breakdown for the amount is $133,010 for staffing costs, $25,000 for Taipei, Taiwan referral housing, and $300,000 for medical supplies.

Those that received increase in the OEK budget version include the Palau Community College (PCC), Ministry of Education, and the several private and public elementary, kindergarten, and high schools.

The OEK appropriated an additional $87,515 to the funding earlier proposed by the President for the PCC to implement the Skilled Palauan Workforce Investment Act. The Ministry of Education was also the beneficiary of a $100,000 increase earmarked for textbook for private schools.

The following schools also got an additional $5,000 in addition to what has been earlier proposed by the President’s budget version: Maris Stella School, SDA Elementary School, Emmaus Kindergarten, Catholic School Kindergarten, SDA Kindergarten, Emmaus High School, Bethania High School, Palau Mission Academy, Mindszenty High School, and Ibobang High School.

The following are some of the reductions in appropriations that was in the final version approved by the OEK: 1) Reduce the allocation to the Bureau of Revenue, Customs, and Taxation of the MOF by $65,000; 2) Reduce the appropriation to the Bureau of Youth, Sports, and Recreation of the MCCA by $69,000; 3) Reduce the appropriation to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and other matching programs by $100,000; 4) Reduce the appropriation to the Bureau of School Administration of the MOE by $79,200; and 5) Reduce the appropriation to the Bureau of Agriculture of the MNRET by $90,000.

The version adopted by the OEK appropriates additional funding to the Senate in the amount of $150,000 and another $50,000 to the House.

The proposed submarine fiber optic cable project was provided an appropriation of $402,000 coursed through the MPIIC.

The President is expected to sign the OEK budget this week when he arrives from Papua New Guinea (PNG).

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