PALIKIR - Referring to the accomplishments of the current Congress as "historic," Speaker Peter M. Christian lowered the gavel likely for the last time during the Thirteenth Congress.
Among the measures passed by the Seventh Special Session during its ten days were a supplemental budget request from the President, appropriation of additional funds for athletic competitions, a contribution to help the victims of the December 26 tsunami tragedy in Southeast Asia, and consideration of the draft Strategic Development Plan (SDP) to be submitted to the US under the Compact.
All told, $960,000 was approved in connection with the President's supplemental budget request. This would fund, among other activities, fuel for national marine surveillance and field trip vessels, a traditional leaders' conference in Yap, FSM participation in the 2006 World Expo, startup costs associated with the Office of Compact Management, site preparation for construction of official residences for executive branch officials, joint law enforcement efforts in Chuuk, support of an increase in copra payments, and funds to repay a loan to the Micronesian Longline Fisheries Corporation (MFLC). The President was also urged to use discretionary funds to help fund the Chuuk student feeding program.
2005 FSM Games, and $100,000 to allow the FSM to participate in the South Pacific Mini Games in Palau.
In recognition of the generosity of the international community in helping the FSM in time of need, the Congress appropriated a contribution of $100,000 to help alleviate the suffering in the aftermath of the recent earthquakes and tsunamis in Southeast Asia.
In his concluding remarks, Speaker Christian summarized the progress made by the Thirteenth Congress in addressing issues of concern to the nation. He also outlined some key issues which he hoped would be the focus of the next Congress, placing greatest emphasis on improving the FSM economy by measures designed to reinvigorate the private sector. He also issued an appeal for all branches of government to engage in a new spirit of shared commitment to constructively address the full slate of issues before the nation.
Many members spoke to the need for a prompt and thorough review of national election procedures in order to avoid the problems experienced in the March 8 election in Chuuk. These have been responsible for a delay in certifying at least one of the election districts.
Earlier in the morning, the Committee on Resources and Development held a hearing on the proposed Strategic Development Plan. A number of questions were raised in the course of the hearing, and during Congressional review, which indicated more work by the Administration would be required before the document could be approved by the Congress for submission to the US. The Congress adopted a resolution in this regard, calling for the branches to work together to arrive at a final document for consideration at the first session of the 14th Congress.
The Seventh Special Session is the last scheduled session of the current Congress. The 14th Congress will be seated in May, immediately followed by the first regular session of the newly-constituted body.