[Yap State News Brief] 2nd Regular Session For The 18th FSM Congress Adjourned: What’s In It For The State Of Yap?


Yap State News Brief, Oct 17, 2013

COLONIA, Yap (Yap Congressional Delegation News, Oct. 14, 2013) — Senator Isaac V. Figir and Senator Joseph J. Urusemal, the two Members representing Yap State to the 18th FSM Congress, have recently returned to Yap from the nation’s capitol in Palikir, Pohnpei after having attended the 2nd Regular Session for the 18th FSM Congress, which went from September 12, 2013 to October 3, 2013.


One of the highly anticipated bills during the Session was Congressional Bill (CB) No. 18-80, or the appropriation bill for the fiscal year 2014 budget for the operations of the FSM National Government. The two representatives from Yap to the 18th FSM Congress, who are both on the Ways and Means Committee, worked diligently [alongside] the other Members of the Committee and Congress to ensure that the FSM National Government did not go into a shutdown; evidently with the timely passage of Congressional Bill (CB) No. 18-80 CD2.


CB No. 18-80 CD2 is a bill appropriating nearly $45.17 million dollars for the operations of all branches, agencies, and various programs of the FSM National Government, as well as grants, subsidies and contributions, and other funding for capital and human resources development in fiscal year 2014. Congress enacted the bill and has since been signed into law as Public Law (PL) No. 18-15 with a line item veto on a $5 million appropriation for the FSM Trust Fund. Congress, however, overrode this line item veto, and thus the appropriated funds for the FSM Trust Fund remains.


Although national in nature, the FY14 budget appropriation has some capital development funds, grants, subsidies and contributions that will also benefit the FSM States.


For the State of Yap in particular, such benefits include, but are not limited to: a $1 million dollars appropriation for the Outer Islands Airport; another $1 million for the FSM National Scholarship; $200,000 for National Merit Scholarship; $35,000 subsidy for the Yap State Court; and $25,000 for the Yap Joint Law Enforcement.


In like manner of providing additional funding to assist the States, Congress also opted to pass CB 18-59 CD2, which went into law without the President’s signature as PL No. 18-12. This law modifies the division formula for the compact funds by reducing the National government’s share from 10% to 5%. The intent of this law is for the National Government to give half of its current share of the compact funding to help mainly the education and health programs at the state level. This assistance translates to around $45 million in the next ten years to the four States.


According to the distribution formula agreed to in EPIC Resolution #2005-3-01, Yap’s share of the compact funding from 2007-2013 was 15.79%. With PL No.18-12, the new division formula in compact funds for Yap will increase to 16.03%, or roughly an additional $700,000 annually.


Another highly awaited bill was CB No. 18-74, or the repeal of the sunset clause deadline for the FSM Revenue Administration Act of 2012 (RAA) in order for it to take effect. A majority of the Members of Congress chose not to repeal the sunset clause, but instead, amended the bill and enacted an extension to the tax reform implementation deadline from September 30, 2013 to March 31, 2014.


This came out of the notion that the tax reform initiative should only be carried out upon collective support and consensus of all the four FSM State Governments and the FSM National Government. CB 18-74 CD2, now PL No. 18-16, makes it clear that “no implementation of tax reform may be undertaken” prior to the set deadline so to prevent the National government and the twostates whose passed its value added tax (VAT) legislation to implement tax reform.


The Yap Delegation to Congress made it clear during discussion of the bill that they respect the decision of the Yap StateLegislature in choosing not to enact its State RAA legislation, and thus State VAT legislation, mainly because of a Constitutional conflict. Chairman Figir added that as a leader he, and all people entrusted to make decisions, “must live with the consequences of our decisions.”


Other Congressional Acts (CA) during this Session includes the following:


1.            CA No. 18-17 [CB No. 18-63 CD2] which is an act to amend certain sections of Title 37 of the FSM Code to include a definition for Class IV captive insurance companies.


2.            CA No. 18-19 [CB No. 18-68] which is an act to amend Title 11 of FSM Code to create a new chapter criminalizing shining laser pointers at aircrafts.


Additionally, other bills were also enacted to change lapse dates and uses of funds for previous appropriations for various Statedevelopment projects and programs. For a complete listing of all bills introduced, enacted, and those signed into law, please visit the FSM Congress website at www.fsmcongress.fm.


A long list of Congressional Resolutions (CR) were also adopted during the 2nd Regular Session of the 18th FSM Congress, which includes among others, mostly Resolutions approving grants and grant applications from entities like the United Nations and Governments like the United States of America.


In discussing most of the Resolutions on approval of grants and submissions of grant applications, Chairman Urusemal reiterated his concern on how these, and other grants from donor countries, get rotated and distributed so to ensure that the FSM Statefurther west not be forgotten.


One particular Resolution adopted, CR No. 18-81, requests the Speaker to call for a Special Session in November 2013 for the purpose of allowing Congress to deliberate on a number of pressing and pending issues. One of these pending issues includes, but is not limited to, CB No. 18-77, which is essentially a bill for an act to create a Telecommunication Regulatory Authority, and guidelines to enhance access and affordability of telecommunication services in the FSM by way of liberation and open competition. CB No. 18-77 had been assigned to the Committee on Transportation and Communications.


Meanwhile, a delegation from Congress, including Chairman Figir, is currently in Washington DC for, among other things, a meeting with the World Bank, a potential grantor for the fiber optic connectivity project which would enhance telecommunications services for the remaining FSM States. Chairman Figir and the delegation from Congress are due to return on October 19, 2013.


For a complete listing of all resolutions introduced and adopted during this Session, as well as a listing of Bills and Public Laws, please visit www.fsmcongress.fm. For further information, please email yapdel@mail.fm or congresspio@mail.fm.


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