10th Government inauguration budget dispute: finance or politics
By: L.N. Reklai
(Koror, Palau) Despite calls not to politicize the funding for the upcoming 10th government inauguration ceremony and events, the issue has become just that after Senate voted to reject the bill at its December 19th session and then called on Ministers to testify about it at a public hearing on the 23rd of December. [retract]
Responding to Senator Surangel Whipps Jr.’s request for a public hearing on the proposed funding for the 10th Inauguration ceremony, Minister Baklai Temengil-Chilton called it a “needlessly politicized affair”. Neither of the Ministers showed up for the public hearing.
Minister Temengil-Chilton said that calling for a public hearing after the policy decision has been made and after the Senate has voted against the bill is “indicative of bad faith”.
“It is difficult to see what purpose such hearing could possibly serve today,” stated Minister Temengil-Chilton in her letter to Senator Surangel Whipps Jr., Chairman of Senate Committee on Ways & Means.
Furthermore public hearings are “means of facilitating and progressing policy decisions”. In this case, the policy decision has already been made and a public hearing will only politicize an “apolitical issue”, added Minister Temengil-Chilton.
The decision to fund the 10th Inauguration ceremony and events was agreed to during the national leadership meeting held on December 16, 2016, according to President Remengesau Jr. during last week’s press conference. The agreed amount was $250,000 to fund the installation, inauguration and associated events.
In her letter, Chilton emphasized that they would be more than happy to meet to discuss and explain the details relating to the funding and that any documents or discussions at this meeting will be made public but to conduct a public hearing would only be “political grandstanding”.
Senator Surangel Whipps Jr., and other members of the Senate Ways & Means Committee went on the airwaves to express their concern about the proposed amounts for the inauguration. They expressed that it was part of their job as Senators to question such expenditures and felt that the amount was unreasonable.
The 8th Republic of Palau government Inauguration ceremony and activities had a budget of $150,000 in 2009. The 9th OEK in 2013, had a budget of $50,000 and it was only installation ceremony due to the fact that Palau had just came out of Typhoon Bopha.
“The national leadership then agreed that, because Palau had just come out of a typhoon, we will just have an installation ceremony and forego the inauguration. We also agreed that we will celebrate the new government along with our Independence Day in October, after our recovery, which we did,” stated President Remengesau Jr. regarding the decision to cut the budget for the installation of the 9th Government.
“Simply put, the 10th Government deserves the same respect and consideration given its predecessors,” responded Minister Temengil-Chilton regarding the funding for the 10th Government Inauguration. [/retract]