Emergency Declaration of Wutip Prompts Special Session
PALIKIR, POHNPEI. March 18 2019– In response to the President’s Declaration of National Emergency, Speaker Wesley W. Simina called for a special session of the Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia to address the declaration.
The declaration was prompted by Tropical Storm Wutip that had churned its way slowly through all four states from February 18 – 20, 2019. As a Nation dotted with many outlying islands, any tropical storm moving slowly across the lands would have devastating consequences.
And as such, following the assessments by the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Emergency Management, on 22 February 2019, President Peter M. Christian declared the FSM in state of National Emergency.
In response, the Seventh Special Session of the 20th Congress convened on March 8 and immediately adopted Congressional Resolution 20-181, to extend the President’s 30-day National Emergency Declaration for an addition 60-days. The resolution also recognized and supported the President’s authority under a declaration of emergency to access and utilize funds previously appropriated and designated for disaster relief and emergency humanitarian assistance.
To further assist the severely affected islands in their state, members of the Chuuk delegation halted various projects for the state, to instead direct the funding towards food relief and efforts to address the aftermath of Tropical Storm Wutip. Those Congressional Acts (CA) included: CA 20-161, CA 20-162, CA 20-163, CA 20-164 and CA 20-176.
With the Emergency Declaration addressed, the Congress then shifted to the pending needs of the National Government and the Nation as a whole and passed CA 20-174, that appropriated a supplemental budget of $15,963,478 for FY-2019 with the bulk of the supplemental directing $10 million into the FSM Trust Fund and $250,000 towards the FSM Scholarship program. The remaining funds were allocated towards the various operations, subsidies and contributions along with capital and human resources development programs of the National Government;
CA 20-175, appropriated $9.8 million for the purpose of funding social programs and public projects in the states of Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Yap; and
CA 20-178, added the role of a Chief Negotiator of the Amended Compact of Free Association with the United States of America to the responsibilities of the Joint Committee on Compact Review and Planning (JCRP). The Act also made other modifications with respect to the financial management of JCRP.
For the various needs of the states, the Congress passed the following Acts to either change the use of or change the allottees of funds previously appropriated for public projects and social programs in the states:
CA 20-164, had, in addition to the food relief and recovery efforts in the state of Chuuk, the Act included changes to the allottees of funds previously appropriated for priority infrastructure projects in the states of Kosrae and Pohnpei; and
CA 20-165, changed the use of and allottees of funds previously appropriated for public projects and social programs for the people of the states of Chuuk, Pohnpei and Yap.
Specific to the state of Chuuk were CA 20-166 and CA 20-167, Acts passed to change the use of funds previously appropriated for public projects and social programs in the state. For the state of Pohnpei, the Congress passed CA 20-172, to change the allottee of certain funds previously appropriated for public projects and socials programs in the state. And for the state of Yap, the Congress passed CA 20-173, to change the use of funds previously appropriated for the social programs and public project needs in the state.
And finally, among the measures of the Seventh Special Session were Acts for engrossment and technical amendments to previous laws involving the FSM Code, specifically Titles 24 and Title 55, and those Acts included:
CA 20-168, which amended engrossment errors in previous laws that affected Section 1217 of Title 55 of the FSM Code that deals with Government Finance and Contracts, specifically the section on the FSM Trust Fund. Also for technical amendments to the same Title 55, the Congress passed CA 20-170, to renumber chapter 16 on Pohnpei State Commission on Improvement Projects to Chapter 17, and to maintain chapter 16 on reserve.
For title 24 of the FSM Code on Marine Resources, the Congress passed CA 20-169 and CA 20-171, for technical amendments to previous laws on Marine Resources and to reserve chapters 12 – 14 of the title 24.
Following the passage of the bills and adoption of resolutions pending before the Body, the Congress adjourned sine-die on March 14, 2019.
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