COLONIA, Yap—Beginning on February 24th and to conclude on March 3rd, 2022, His Excellency David W. Panuelo—President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)—has been visiting the State of Yap. This release will cover the bulk of the contents relayed by President Panuelo to Yap State leadership in his initial briefing.
President Panuelo began by discussing the COVID-19 Pandemic. The President relayed that approximately 4,000 citizens have left the FSM since the border closure in 2020 till present, with a median age of 25. 1,451 persons have been repatriated into the FSM since that time, of which 138 persons have been repatriated into Yap State.
The President suggested that repatriation activities might begin again in March or April, depending on the severity of the Omicron-variant in Guam, and the vaccination rate for young children and adolescents.
Regarding the negotiations on the Compact of Free Association, President Panuelo advised that the Joint Committee on Compact Review & Planning is relatively close towards agreement on a proposed package which, if accepted internally, would be submitted to the US-side sometime in March. The President relayed that both countries are committed to our Enduring Partnership and special relationship, with an aim towards continuing this relationship.
Regarding the Trust Funds, the President relayed that the Compact Trust Fund has a balance of $1,079,914,682 and that the FSM Trust Fund has a balance of $380,421,000.
Regarding the Nation’s defense arrangements with the United States, the President described that the U.S. remains 100% committed to the FSM’s security and would treat any threat or attack on the FSM as the same as an attack on the U.S. and any of its states or territories. President Panuelo described that there are forthcoming upgrades and expansions to Yap State’s airport and seaport, including the construction of multi-purpose buildings that will serve the interests of both the FSM and the United States.
Regarding the United Nations Multi-Country Office, President Panuelo described that the office has been established and that the FSM is hoping to solicit funding assistance from partners such as Australia for the construction of its campus.
Regarding the Pacific Island Conference of Leaders (PICL), President Panuelo described that he and the Pacific Islands Development Program are working to see if it would be possible for the next convening of the PICL to occur in or around May or June, and with the intention for U.S. President Joseph R. Biden to open the meeting (with President Panuelo serving as the Chair).
Regarding the recent King Tides across the FSM, President Panuelo described that he has amended the Declaration of Emergency that had previously applied only to the State of Chuuk. With the Declaration now including the State of Yap, the People & Government of Yap can expect additional recovery support. President Panuelo instructed the Department of Environment, Climate Change, & Emergency Management to purchase relief items in the State of Yap for distribution to islands across the state, and so as to help its economy in this time of need.
Regarding the Pave the Nation program, President Panuelo described that work is expected to commence on the Donoch and Taaginyal bridges by the end of 2023, with funding provided by the World Bank. The President further described that portions of the $75,000,000 from the PRIME project, and $12,000,000 from the SCORE project, will go directly to transportation projects in Yap State.
Regarding the Nation’s various Social Protection programming, the President described that Yap State residents have received $3,447,845 under the U.S.-funded Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program; that Yap State residents have received $920,000 under the ADB and FSM-funded Low-Income Household Assistance Program; and that Yap State businesses have received $1,595,716 of assistance under the FSM-funded Tourism Sector Mitigation Fund (aka the FSM Economic Stimulus package).
Regarding the Hapilmohol-2 or H-2, the successor to the Hapilmohol-1 or H-1, the President conveyed that the Chinese-constructed and donated ship is presently in the water, and that the FSM expects delivery of the vessel sometime in April, 2022. President Panuelo also relayed that the forthcoming Guardian-class patrol boats, constructed and donated by Australia, are due to arrive in April and July, 2022, and that the FSM is working with Japan to acquire four smaller patrol boats, of which one would be dedicated exclusively to Yap State.
Near the end of his briefing, the President advocated for Yap State’s support on a number of proposed legislation currently sitting with the 22nd FSM Congress, including the Freedom of Information Act, the Cybercrimes bill, the Foreign Investment bill, the Non-Communicable Diseases Bill, and the renewable energy mandate for FSM Petroleum Corporation/Vital.
While the majority of the President’s schedule in Yap State has been, and continues to be, dedicated
to supporting Yap State through various briefings, discussions, and dialogues on items of import to the FSM and to Yap, the President has also entertained tours to some of Yap’s communities. These have included trips to the proposed World Heritage Site in Yap, the FSM-FMI Campus, the Yap Living History Museum, and other locations of interest across Yap.