Opening Statement by Senator Jesse Raglmar SUBOLMAR, Chairman of the Committee on Government, Health and Welfare before the Public Hearing before the Committee of the Whole, Eighth Legislature on the Petition from Yap Awareness Project Group
February 5, 2013
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Members of the Legislature, members of the Yap Awareness Project Group and members of the listening public
Mr. Chairman, my role in making this opening statement on behalf of the Committee at this point in the Hearing is to try, as best I can, to make clear the issues and efforts before this Hearing. Foremost among these efforts is our obligation and the right of the people to know and come to understand the concerns of the Y.A.P. Group, the chronological actions by the State Government or the Executive Branch with the ETG and the actions taken by Legislature.
What led to the ETG Investment Agreement, which was signed on August 11, 2012 was a Strategic Framework Agreement signed by the Governor on behalf of the Government of the State of Yap [GSY] on April 21, 2011 in China. That Agreement provide basis for the Investment Agreement.
Many a version of the Investment Agreement was transmitted to the Legislature and the three Standing Committees of the Legislature held public hearings for four days on No. 5 version of the Investment Agreement.
After the Public Hearings, the Legislature received from the executive branch the No. 6 version of the Investment Agreement on August 9, 2012, which included some the suggested changes aired in the Public Hearings.
The version of the Investment Agreement that was signed two days after the Public Hearings on August 11, 2012, was a new version. It did not include some the amendments suggested in the Public Hearings which were included in version No. 6, submitted to the Legislature, but included language that were not in the No. 5 version, on which the Standing Committees held hearings nor in version No.6 of the Agreement that was transmitted to the Legislature.
In a way of chronological presentation of the events leading up to today’s Hearing, I present as follows:
1. Strategic Framework Agreement signed by Governor in China 4/21/11
2. Memorandum of Understanding signed with ETG by Chairman, COP 1/12/12
3. Memorandum of Understanding signed by Director of DY&CA 10/20/11
4. Resolution No. 8-29 requesting Governor not to sign the Investment Agreement until the people are informed about ETG was adopted on 1/26/12
5. Resolution No. 9-31, requesting ETG to stop until the Yapese People have come together to understand the Project adopted on April 19, 2012
6. Investment Agreement signed with ETG on August 11, 2012
7. Foreign Investment Permit issued April 26, 2012* and Business License issued on October 1, 2011.
8. Resolution No.8-53, requesting Governor to inform ETG that the Investment Agreement is void and for ETG to stop implementing its Project in Yap was adopted on September 18, 2012
9. Letter from Governor to Chairman Deng Hong of ETG advising him of the opposition to the ETG Project in Yap and that he consider voiding the Agreement was sent on October 1, 2012
10. Letter from the Dalip pi Nugchol directing and commanding that the ETG Project not to be implemented in Yap was issued on September 21, 2012
11. Letter from the Bulche at Tithera, Pebinaw, Nimath on support for bringing the leadership together to consider sustainable investment was issued on September 21, 2012.
12. Mr. Deng Hong, ETG Chairman dated December 27,2012 reply letter to Governor’s letter of October 1, 2012
13. Visit two weeks ago by FSM President Mori and Ambassador Susaia to China and met with government, including the Legislature and private groups on the ETG on January 27, 2012
The letter from Y.A.P. that submitted the Y.A.P. Petition to the Legislature on November 26, 2012, called for:
– unity amongst the leaders to effectuate unity in the communities
– further exploration into EGT’s Investment Proposal to pursue all possible benefits
The Petition itself from Y.A.P. expressed disagreement with the recent resolution of the Legislature, which is Resolution No.8-53. That Resolution was adopted to support Governor’s letter to advise the Chairman of ETG to void the ETG Investment Agreement.
The Petition also pointed out that Y.A.P. Group does not support the position of others to recall the Governor. To this, the Legislature has no role with regard to any recall of the Governor or any officials because 1) the recall process is not a legislative process or issue, it is the people’s issue and 2) at the time of the Petition there was no petition for recall that was submitted to the Government or the Legislature.
The main issue throughout the Y.A.P. Petition is on the important need for unity among the leaders to support development and foreign investment because of the distressing economy and to express disagreement with the recent Resolution No. 53 adopted by the Legislature.
The Petition also asked the Legislature to support and encourage the Governor to be diligently pursue his legal mandates in promoting suitable and sustainable foreign investment and private sector growth.
The Legislature is bewildered and concerned by Y.A.P.’s issuance of their Petition after the resolution was adopted, the letter from the Traditional chiefs was issued and the letter from Governor was sent to ETG asking to void the Investment Agreement.
The Legislature has not discouraged the Governor in his effort to pursue foreign investment. However, the Legislature has asked that the people be kept informed and to follow established sanctioned policies and allow for transparency of government operation.
As the Hearing proceeds, Mr. Chairman, it will come to light why the Legislature took the actions it has taken. These actions are not against the Governor or foreign investment but they are for the right of the people to be informed so they can make informed decisions.
These actions by the Legislature were taken to uphold the important policy that government initiatives whether in pursuit of foreign investment or some other, need to be pursued pursuant to policies sanctioning such initiatives, and that the consideration of such initiatives be open and transparent.
That is why the consideration of the ETG Project cannot simply be a matter of economics, dollar amounts and investment but much more than that. And, the call by all including Y.A.P. for the leaders of the State to come together is very important because leading the State is viewed to be more important than our differences of opinion.
The Legislature has been accused by some for demanding information on ETG and yet refused to be involved and participate. The truth is not, on not wanting to participate but rather on, not finding a way or not presented a way to participate. In one of the Leadership meetings it was agreed to form a Task Force or Committee to make a Plan for Yap State but when the Governor notified and asked the Legislature for participation on the Task Force, the Task Force was for looking for land for ETG to make its plan; not one to make a Plan for Yap.
What continues to perpetuate the dilemma and anxiety is the fact that ETG has not submitted its Master Plan for the Project. Can the Project proceed without a Master Plan?
Again, the thrust of the Y.A.P. Petition is on the importance of development and foreign investment and unity of the leaders to pursue development. There is no disagreement there. Our difference could perhaps lie in the approaches but the most important issues are for us to uphold and defend the importance of policies sanctioning initiatives of government and internal decision-making process.
This open forum with open participation will eventually lead all concerns to greater understanding as part of that important process on seek common ground and in so doing; we would as we must, hold our laws and our processes high in all we do to consider external issues and foreign investments.
We observe in all of these petitions, resolutions and letters that we all have strong and unwavering support for a more developed and self-sustaining economy and society. And, Yes, a society with cherished values that are as old as Yap itself but as new as our renewed determination to achieve sustainable development, not at the expense of ourselves but to enhance these cherished values for they are the foundation for the future of our people.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.
*Note: The original text was “Foreign Investment Permit issued April 26, 2011 and Business License issued on October 1, 2011.” But the correct date for Foreign Investment Permit should be April 26, 2012. The typo has been corrected.