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President Remengesau met with both Houses of the OEK for the first Leadership meeting of 2015 on January 7th to discuss a number of issues regarding legislation, national policies, government performance, and upcoming national events. Toppingday’s agenda were the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS) Legislative Framework, Micro-Pal Committee – Update Report (Underwater Fiber Optic Cable), Japan Emperor Visit – Update Report, upcoming new Palau passport issuance, and the Pacific Games to be held in July in Papua New Guinea. Members of the PNMS Legislative Committee including Minister Umiich Sengebau, Press Secretary Keobel Sakuma, PICRC CEO Dr. Yimnang Golbuu, Jennifer Gibbons of the Chamber of Commerce, and Steven Victor of the Nature Conservancy presented on the structural, surveillance, economical, social, environmental, security, and funding aspects of the marine sanctuary. Palau Ambassador for the Oceans and Seas to the UN, Stuart Beck was present at the meeting commenting that, “Palau is now leading the world in re-generating the Ocean. Due to Palau’s lead the Oceans is front and center within UN discussions on the Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals. There now over 70 counrties that have marine sanctuaries, but none of them are as comprehensive as Palau’s would be. Palau now leads a world movement on managing ocean resources and it will create the model for all sanctuaries.” Beck further commended Palau’s leadership for their efforts in making the concept a reality. The PNMS Legislative committee presented on how the PNMS will bolster Palau’s food security, improve Palau’s domestic fishing industry, and support Palau’s tourism sector. Dr. Golbuu enlightened the Leadership on how science supports the PNMS, highlighting years of research that calls for such action to be taken, saying, “Palau’s Ocean resources are depleting, the Pacific Region’s resources are depleting, and they are certainly in trouble. If we don’t do anything the trend will continue.” Golbuu further elaborated that protected areas add 5% more
biomass to the site, and that the “Bul” practice that the PNMS is modeled after will certainly have a positive effect on not only Palau’s marine biodiversity but the region’s as well. The committee also elaborated on economic aspects of the PNMS presenting on how it will boost Palau’s efforts in targeting and generating high-value tourism with its exceptional pristine environment. “The PNMS will certainly add premium value to Palau as a destination,” Jennifer Gibbons stated, for example, “tuna will be premium in Palau and Palau will be one of few places in the world tourists would have access to not only premium tuna, but other premium seafood, caught and produced by Palauans,” She stated. The Leadership also received reports from the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Palau’s current mortality rate and the Nation’s leading causes of death. The Leadership urged the MOH to improve its services and performance in health care and particularly in emergency medical responses, and improvements in State Dispensary Services. The Palau Public Utilities Corporation (PPUC) also reported at the meeting on recent multiple power outages over a one month span. PPUC reported on the causes of those outages and other power issues such as power fluctuations, grid network stations maintenance and management. President Remengesau, however recently wrote to the PPUC Board soliciting answers as to what the causes of the recent power outages are, and power fluctuations that disrupt businesses, and damage appliances including expensive electronics. The President was aware that PPUC had
commissioned an outside consultant to assess Palau’s power lines to determine the causes of transmission problems and asked PPUC what it has done to address the problems identified in that assesment. The President also mentioned in his letter that the power backup system at the Capitol Building in Ngerulmud does not work properly during power outages. The President concluded his letter requesting PPUC to provide an action plan and timetable in addressing the issues. Micro-Pal Committee, represented by PNCC Board member, Rhinehart Silas reported on the status of Palau’s acquisition of a fiber optic cable. Silas reported that the next step in acquiring a fiber optic cable is to create a public corporation to manage the fiber optic cable. The bill to create such corporation was agreed at the meeting to be pursued first by the Senate. The Leadership also discussed the items on the President’s legislative agenda and the House of Delegates legislative agenda that were Senior Citizens Discount Card Act (RPPL 8-49), Palau Visa Requirement Consideration, and Appointments to Boards, Commissions and Offices; Amendments to the Procurement Act (House Bill No. 9-157-15S), Amendments to Social Security (House Bill No. 9-7-1), Amendment to the Code of Ethics (House Bill No. 9-24), and the National Landfill and Jail Relocation.

January 7, 2015