Marine security tops final session of 19th Congress

PALIKIR, POHNPEI – April 7, 2017. The Nineteenth Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia adjourned its final session with the passage of measures to secure the Nation’s maritime borders and the biodiversity of its environment, among other issues.
The Congress convened on March 27th for its Eighth Special Session to address urgent matters pending before the Body. The session began with the review of the four measures vetoed by the President. Congress determined that the vetoes were not due to any legal impediments or drafting errors, but rather based on policy decisions and, through override, returned all four measures to the President to be signed into law. Those measures included:
Congressional Act (CA) 19-149, to allow travel expenses for those entitled to stipend for official travels to the outer islands; CA 19-150, to clarify in Title 55 of the FSM Code that the Speaker of the Congress is not required to further certify the Members affidavits of their Representation and Official allowances expenditures; CA 19-158, to restrict any negotiations with the United States contemplated or proposed by the Joint Committee on Compact Review and Planning (JCRP) to Title Two Economic Provisions of the Amended Compact of Free Association; and CA 19-159, an amendment to Title 55 to provide the Public Auditor with the powers to investigate allegations of white-collar crime.
With the overrides tackled, the Congress passed CA 19-163, for a supplemental budget of $1,684,000 to respond to the various issues and obligations of the national government. The Body then addressed measures pending regarding marine resources and maritime zones for which the following Acts of the 19th Congress were passed:
CA 19-173, is an amendment to Title 24 of the FSM Code to modify the terms of members of the Board of National Oceanic Resource Management Authority to allow possible reappointments for an additional two-year term;
CA 19-174, is another amendment to Title 24 designed to enhance the National Government’s ability to enforce national fishery laws and regulations in and beyond the Fisheries Waters where applicable consistent with its obligations in conservation and management under international and regional conventions. The Act also reflected recent obligations assumed under the Third Implementing Arrangement under the Nauru Agreement;
CA 19-176, also amended Title 24 to extend the Nation’s existing 12- mile Exclusive Economic Zone by an additional 12 miles and maintain the current prohibitions of commercial fishing and exploitation of natural resources within the 24 miles; and finally
CA 18-178, is an amendment to Title 18 to align it with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and to finally update the FSM’s Maritime Boundary as concluded in the delimitation treaties with its neighboring nations.
In addition to the Acts on marine security was one to address security of the environment. Congressional Act 19-180, is an amendment to Title 22 of the FSM Code to simplify and clarify the bio security protection procedures in order to prevent the introduction of invasive species with higher potential of destroying the biodiversity and the environment of the FSM.
A significant measure that was passed during the 8th Special Session of the 19th Congress was CA 19-175, to increase the salaries of the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the FSM Supreme Court. The Act called for the Chief Justice to receive a salary of $62,000 per annum with salary of the Associate Justices at $52,000 per annum.
The remaining Acts of the special session are for public projects and social programs in the four states to make either changes to the use of funds previously appropriated or to make changes to the allottees of those fund and they included the following,
Specific to the State of Chuuk were Congressional Act (CA) 19-161 and CA 19-164 for changes to the use and allottees of funds previously allotted. A third measure CA 19-165, clarified the use of funds previously appropriated for Priority Infrastructure in the state.
Specific to the State of Kosrae was CA 19-170, to change the use and allottees of certain funds previously appropriated for public projects and social programs in the state.
Specific to the State of Pohnpei were CA 19-166, to change the use and allottee of funds previously appropriated to fund Priority Infrastructure projects in the state; CA 19-168 and CA 19-169, both made change to the use of funds previously appropriated for public projects and social programs in the state.
For the State of Yap, CA 19-177 called for change to the use of funds previously appropriated for the purpose of funding essential government functions and projects in the state.
While certain Acts were specific to each state, the remaining Acts from the 8th Special Session were inclusive of either two to all states in one Act, and they included:
CA 19-160, called for changes to the use, the allottee and lapse date of certain funds previously appropriated for public projects and social programs in the states of Chuuk and Yap.
CA 19-162, called for changes to the use of funds previously appropriated for public projects and social programs in the states of Chuuk, Kosrae and Pohnpei;
CA 19-167, called for changes to the use of funds previously appropriated for public projects and social programs in the states of Chuuk and Pohnpei;
CA 19-171, called for changes to the use and allottees of funds previously appropriated for public projects and social programs in the states of Yap, Kosrae and Chuuk; and
CA 19-172, called for changes to the use of funds previously appropriated for public projects and social programs in the states of Kosrae and Chuuk.
The final Act was CA 19-177, which appropriated $200,000 to fund public projects and social programs in each of the four states.
Along with the 25 Acts, the Congress also adopted 14 resolutions at the end of its 8th Special Session. While most of the resolutions centered on grant assistances to the FSM, two addressed international issues pending before the Body and two expressed sincere gratitude and appreciation to the two outgoing Members of the 19th Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia.