Colonia, Yap. December 9, 2016. Senator Joseph J. Urusemal and Senator Isaac V. Figir, of the Yap Congressional Delegation, after the 5th Regular Session of 19th FSM Congress, led an outreach and fact-finding initiative to the outlying islands in the State of Yap.
Chairman Urusemal reports the initiative took several forms, including “updating the Outer Island communities on recent and upcoming developments in the National Government, measuring progress on ongoing government initiatives being undertaken in the communities, and engaging in conversation with the leaders in each community about the issues impacting their residents and the challenges they face.”
The delegation included Staff Attorney Jesse Stutt, Administrative Officer Santus Sarongelfeg, and Information Officer Andy Choor. Other technical and expert staff from the FSM Agricultural division of R&D and Office of Environment and Emergency Management (OEEM), as well as an agent of the FSM Petroleum Corporation assessing the purchasing of copra, combined efforts with the delegation in addressing some of the challenges faced by the communities.
The various island communities highlighted an array of challenges aiding better identification of which local concerns are most in need of Congressional prioritization. These included impacts of climate change with concerns ranging from food security, durable infrastructures, effective communication technologies, to timely disaster relief efforts; as well as concerns of transportation from reliable ship schedules to outer islands airport’s renovations.
The Congressional delegation shared a number of congressional efforts aimed at addressing some of these challenges listing recent appropriations under the fiscal year 2017 FSM Government budget as well as other recent appropriations.
These appropriations include a recent $1.75 million for the State of Yap under P.L No. 19-124, which earmarked among other infrastructure projects:
- $300,000 for Ulithi and Woleai community health centers’ repairs, renovations, and medical equipment purchases; and
- $500,000 for outer islands elementary schools repairs and renovations.
Additionally, a $600,000 appropriation under P.L. No. 19-121 for Yap State was among the list of recent Congressional appropriations highlighted, of which included projects like:
- a combined $60,000 for water catchment projects in various outer island communities; and
- a combined $110,000 for women food security projects i.e., purchasing of hand tools, gardening tools, etc.
On past appropriations and timely implementation of the Congressional funded projects, the Senators urged the community leaders to work with the State and National executive leadership in prioritizing the implementation of these projects and programs.
The delegation also warned of the anticipated financial challenges ahead with the termination of the financial provisions under the Amended Compact of Free Association in 2023. Further noting that some Congressional efforts in addressing this grave concern include the creation of the Joint Committee for Compact Review and Planning (JCRP), and continued investments into the FSM Trust Fund with a recent $7.5 million appropriation in the fiscal year 2017 budget, as well as an additional $2.26 million nearing the end of last fiscal year.
Other matters of discussion also included protection against falling victims to human trafficking, renewable energy developments and efforts, and an upcoming Constitutional referendum on dual citizenship.
Along side the delegation, the accompanying agricultural experts conducted agricultural and food security sessions along with distributing nearly 3,000 breadfruit, banana, and taro seedlings throughout the outer islands. Additionally, the communications technicians with OEEM conducted disaster management sessions as well as installed and repaired disaster communications systems. The communities were especially grateful for the copra-purchasing agent who will be providing a source of income for most of the island residents.
For more information on this and other outreach efforts of the Yap Congressional Delegation, please contact the Yap Congressional Delegation Office.