…that when their time arrives, our children will inherit from us a State that is self-dependent but not reliant.
We are with a strong conviction that ODA will not do the job for us sufficiently but a more conducive, well defined and investor friendly sustainable economic development plan is the seed that is meant to trigger key infrastructure development, bear and stimulate economic growth, create jobs, nurture government tax revenue base and at the end of the day-give us the means to forgo for ourselves a sense of self-sufficiency and self-dependence. This will instill an environment within our State to remedy the brain drain dilemma and attract our educated young generation and citizens who have migrated overseas to find job opportunities to come back home and contribute to not only our policy making but our economic growth as well. According to the recent IOM report and studies and researches that were done by Father Francis Hezel, a lot of our FSM citizens including Yap have out-immigrated to the US Main land, the State of Hawaii, CNMI, and the Territory of Guam in search of job opportunities as we do not have them at home. So the question that our team continues to raise is, “how do we create job opportunities at home to attract our young men and women to come back home and work and contribute? We do believe that as we administer our government, we must keep in mind that government must be an engine or a catalyst to boost the private sector in order to create job opportunities.
Our team has started a lot of work on the path toward a vibrant and inclusive sustainable economic development and we strongly believe in developing an economy that encourage participation through opportunities created. Our Yapese people, in our humble view, need to enrich our cultural and traditional approaches to decision making and afford it its credibility through the engagement of those processes. We just do not wish for an economic roadmap but rather a well defined and articulated economic plan that the people of Yap has agreed to and are aware of the needed commitment to meet the challenges of self-sufficiency. Thus, our envisioned governance for the next four years must have in its cross hair the building blocks for self-sufficiency, the first of which is truly in the best interest of this State. If our team is part of that new Leadership, we must look beyond politics in search of the common good. We must set aside inter-branch partisanship and find courage to do what is right even if it is unpopular.
We must always remind ourselves that every challenge is an opportunity for us to come together to convoke and speak in person in the State Leadership in search of one voice, a unified voice that sets policies that are sound and genuinely in the best interest of our State and the Yapese people for now and for the long term.
Our Team would like to list all the factual milestone accomplishments regarding ODA funded projects and programs during the past four years but of the essence of time, we will name a few that we have completed and also those that we have started and plan on completing in the up-coming years based on our infrastructure, social and economic development plan. We have proposed amendments to our current Foreign Investment Law, which are now with our law makers for review and actions to make it well defined with a clear purpose and more foreign investors friendly. This is an initiative that has stimulated the interest of our other sister states and our National Government to follow using ours as a template to amend their State and National FIP Laws. It is incumbent upon the government to enact legislation or maintain laws that stimulate rather than depress private sector growth.
We have seen improvement in our education system as the aged education infrastructure have been refurbished with grants from our donor and bilateral partners and some are underway with funding already approved. Our Education Department has instituted this year a program to allow all students to ride the school buses for free to and from their schools. The curriculum program has been improved and the salaries of teachers have been raised based on the Executive Order we issued in 2016 to lift the Salary Freeze and the Conditions. Pursuant to the Executive Order, we will continue to work with our legislative branch into raising the salaries of other government employees to a sustainable level. Currently a Technical Assistance Project from the Asian Development Bank by our request is completing its review work on reforming the Public Administration and Sector. The team’s recommendations will be reviewed as part of our sustainable economic plan. We have in close collaboration with our National Government and our telecom service providers have successfully installed this year a submarine fiber optic cable with broad band connectivity to connect our State to the rest of World to allow easier and convenient communications benefiting our education and health services systems, our private and commerce sector development as well as our government system.
To efficiently facilitate our infrastructure development, we have established last year our State Project Management Office, funded by the compact sector grant approved by JEMCO, and is fully staffed to date. We take pride in our PMO as the best in the FSM and are now working with our PW&T. Our PMO professional engineers have packaged many of our State infrastructure projects listed in our FSM and State Infrastructure Plan (IDP) some which have approved funds and some are awaiting funds approval. The Outer Island High School and Super Dispensary in Woleai have been awarded funds under the Compact Sector Grants and are being packaged by our PMO. Additionally, the major renovation of the Airport in Woleai, through our partnership with the National Government has been contracted out to a company in Pohnpei and construction is soon to begin. We thank the National Government for the generous funding support.
Our Administration has officially submitted the project package for our Northern Road to the National Government for consideration under ODA funding scheme after it was rejected once again by JEMCO for funding under the Amended Compact funds in August. We are optimistically awaiting approval of funds under the ODA program at this time. For our sea transportation needs, we are happy to underscore that our ship the Haplimohol 1 (H1) with the generous assistance of our National Government is finishing up her dry-dock repair and maintenance work in the Philippines next week and will be steaming back home to resume her field trip services to our neighboring islands. We have submitted a proposal package to the National Government for ODA partners’ consideration for a new ship to compliment the H1 services and eventually replace her when she is De-commisioned. We have been informed that the package is approved under the ODA from China.
For Health care we are working so hard to instill in our system the capacity to treat more serious illnesses to minimize the growing expenses for government on medical referral. The joint Task Force that had been created to carry out research for feasible options for the State has completed its work and has made recommendations to the State Leadership for review and consideration. We have met with all the medical insurance service providers and are in the process of engaging the services of the viable ones for the State for its government employees and to also encourage the private sector employees. This is inclusive of our own FSM MiCare Insurance Program.
As known in the region and history for our State, this State this year despite many doubts of our own people and others outside of our State, successfully hosted the Micronesian Games. Many of our Micro Games Council members, VIPs, athletes, coaches and officials, and spectators commented that our humble State hosted the best Games comparing to the previous Micro Games. This indeed was a great success due to all the fabulous efforts and undivided support of our people in the government, private sector and our respective communities. This is a clear illustration of the empowerment of our Youth today to take full responsibility of making decisions to run the games and participating in the different sports.
We can go on into other social programs like gender equality inclusive of women empowerment and our youth today development and empowerment to be part of our policy making but for the importance of brevity, our team would like to conclude in underscoring that a strong Traditional Leadership is invaluable to our voyage towards self-sufficiency. As elected leaders, we must not marginalize Traditional Leadership and Authority or its roles and functions in government. We must give our Traditional Leadership our candid support and respect and we must continue to realize that a strong and respected Traditional Leadership from the grass root to government level is in everyone’s best interest. We all must not forget that without Traditional Leadership, the government may not have secured land easements it needed to build our roads, our airport, our hospital, our wharf and our schools. The Civil Order and peace and the sense of community cohesiveness that we enjoy from the past to today in our State spring from norms of customs and traditions that only the Traditional Leadership can uphold. Our team continues to implore the Council of Pilung and Council of Tamol to continue tightening their traditional ties to the island and village communities and as we go into the next four years, government must work collaboratively with the two councils to move our State forward.
The challenges in our path in the next four years are big and many but we must join hands to overcome them. We know for a fact that failure will be mortal to the well-being of our future and the future of our children and generations to come. Our team strongly believes that if we put common good first, and the best interest of our people above all else, and we do for ourselves what we can instead of relying on others, taking strength from our heritage as proud and self-reliant people, we shall overcome our challenges.
THIS IS GOING TO BE OUR CONTINUED JOURNEY INTO THE NEXT FOUR YEARS AND BEYOND IF WE ARE GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE AGAIN!
MAY GOD BLESS ALL OF YOU!
THANK YOU, KAMAGAR GAD, and HAISA HARETAL HACHISECHIG