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[Yap State News] Special Leadership Meeting Addresses “Golden Opportunity”, Fiber-optic Connectivity

August 22,2013

Resource: Yap State News Brief (August 22, 2013)

TABLAW, Colonia — At 10 AM on Monday, August 19, 2013, Speaker Falan and members of the Yap State Legislature called a meeting with Governor Anefal at the Legislative Chamber to further discuss the opportunity presented by the World Bank to fund Yap’s Fiber Optic connectivity.  Senator Jesse Raglmar-SUBOLMAR produced an account of that meeting; below is a copy of that account obtained from the good Senator as approved by Governor and Speaker.

Present at the meeting were Speaker Henry Falan, Governor Sebastian L. Anefal, Vice Speaker Ted Rutun, Senators Jerry Fagolimul, Joseph Giliko, Jesse Raglmar-SUBOLMAR, John Masiwemai and John Mooteb,  FSMTC Board of Directors member James Gilmar, and FSMTC Yap Branch Manager Peter Garamfel, among others.

The Speaker started the meeting by saying that the Fiber Optic Connectivity of Yap to the cable from Guam to Palau and the offer by the World Bank to fund Yap State connectivity in the form of a grant is the issue. The offer by the World Bank, “to many of us is a golden opportunity of a lifetime that may never come again.”

It was pointed out that the leaders had made the decision on fiber optic connectivity for some time, but the FSM simply did not have the funds to do it; although the FSM made a loan to fund the fiber optic connectivity, which every subscriber [of FSMTC] in the FSM is paying for.

It we pointed out that there were two conditions the World Bank [required before offering] funding, and they are:

1.      Liberalization of telecommunication services in the FSM, which would require the repeal or amendment of the current enabling legislation for FSMTC and the enactment of a new law establishing a competent authority to regulate and monitor the providers of telecommunication services.

2.      The World Bank offer will be taken off of the table if the FSM efforts fail to meet the February 2014 deadline, during which the technical people will present the project to the Board of Directors of the World Bank.

One important issue is the need to reach agreement with “our brothers” in Palau on her connectivity, since the fiber optic cable project from Guam to Palau is a Palau project and not FSM’s, and to which Yap will connect by a spur to be funded by a grant from the World Bank. There is a government-to-government meeting now scheduled at the end of September between representatives of the FSM and Palau governments in the fiber optic connectivity.

The Speaker pointed out that the Legislature supports the offer by the World Bank, which has [also offered] technical assistance from $500,000 to $2 million to help the FSM in-country preparation, including assistance to the FSMTC (FSM Telecommunication Corporation) to become more competitive in a liberalized market.

Governor Anefal thanked the Speaker for the meeting, and went on to speak on some background information. He recalled that it was during Senator Joe Urusemal’s presidency that fiber optic connectivity was first raised and… was unanimously agreed for the FSM to pursue. President Manny Mori [in his first term] issued his policy that all four states should be connected to the fiber optic cable, but the real difficulty was the fact that the FSM had no money [for such a project]. When the [U.S. military laid the] cable from Guam to Kwajelein, [it] resulted in the ERA Loan for Pohnpei connectivity only. [The Governor] said that the offer by the World Bank is a golden opportunity for Yap to get its connectivity.

This is where [Yap] is: with need to talk with Palau, the World Bank, FSM and the ADB—which is more familiar with [Yap] and with the World Bank.

The Governor pointed [out that] the main issue is the liberalization of telecommunication services, and said [that]  FSMTC is now more restraint… that the FSMTC is a creation by the FSM National Government and so they (FSMTC) said that whatever the governments decide, that will be their mandate.

It was pointed out that everybody have been talking in support if fiber optic connectivity, and the Congress of the FSM should pursue the liberalization of telecommunication services.

The Leadership of the State of Yap should ensure that the FSM National Government, and in particular the FSM Congress, [placed] its sentiment and support of the World Bank offer and the liberalization of telecommunication services in the FSM.

The agreement by Palau is the key issue, for without their (Palau’s) approval the project would not flourish or consummated as planned, to run the cable to Palau from Guam with a spur to Yap. The concern may be around the issue of whether Palau would afford the loan for its connectivity which the World Bank has divided the costs into 50% for Palau and 50% for the FSM. In any event, this was the key issue that hopefully will be sufficiently addressed in the proposed September meeting.

The FSMTC representatives expressed the fact that although O3b satellite connectivity was being looked into, but for the interim before the cable is laid, which would require some time to do.

Commentary

This is the most uplifting meeting where all present, and Governor and Speaker agreed on the importance of the fiber optic connectivity for Yap and support the needed liberalization of telecommunication services in the FSM, without which the offer by the World Bank for in-country [preparations], including assistance to FSMTC.

The Speaker and members of the Legislature, and Governor Anefal agreed on the importance of the fiber [optic] connectivity and to do what can be done to show the unified position of Yap State in support if liberalization if telecommunication services in the FSM and the acceptance, with thanks, of the offer by the World Bank and with support of the ADB. []

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