|Jonathan Cio Isechal|
The House of Delegates today will pass on third and final reading the FY2018 budget as well as the presidential version of the airport expansion bill that was returned to the Congress last Friday before President Remengesau left the country. This is according to Ways and Means Chairman and House Majority Whip , Jonathan Cio Isechal (Peleliu) whose committee handles the budget and the airport bill.
Del. Isechal said due to the urgency of the unfinished work on the 2018 budget and the awaited airport expansion bill, he has to remain in the country and to forego a trip to USA this week with the COFA board to meet with 14 fund managers in Tampa, Los Angeles, and Honolulu of the Palau Compact investments in USA that totaled $211 million as of June 30, 2017. The COFA board left on August 1 and will return on the 8th.
He indicated that the proposed budget submitted by the President last month has been increased by the House to $91 authorized and $86.7 authorized and appropriated to be spent in the next fiscal year to commence on October 1, 2017. The President had proposed $88 million to be appropriated and $86.1 to be authorized and appropriated. He added that the increase by the House is for state block grants which he said will up by about $30,000 for each state. It will be sent to the Senate for its action before transmittal to the President for his signature.
As for the airport expansion bill which was referred back to the Congress as PD1(President Draft 1), the President recommends that the OEK approves the HOD version which removed any further approval of the agreement that provides for BOT(build, operate, and transfer) project to cost about $24million to be financed by JICA and Japanese companies in a 51-49 venture with Palau government.
President Remengesau has said the Congress has approved two resolutions from the House and the Senate preapproved the project agreements and yet the Senate version of the bill requires again the OEK to approve it by law after the President has signed the two agreements involved which he asserted, had been submitted to the lawmakers. However, none of the lawmakers, TBN contacted had seen the agreements which the President and the Japanese officials were set to sign on August 1 and 28. The August 1 signing has been cancelled awaiting the approval of the bill which will not happen until this weekend when the Senate is set to vote on it on Saturday, August 5.