January 5, 2016 (Koror, Palau) The Senate last night has finally agreed to spend money on the upcoming inauguration and waive national procurement laws.
Six senators voted to fund the Jan. 19 inauguration activities for $200,000 and gave its green light to President Remengesau’s proposal to forgo procurement laws with 14 days left before the event.
It was learned that two senators however abstained from the voting, they were Sen. Mason Whipps and Rukebai Inabo. Under Senate rules, an abstain vote is counted as a yes vote.
The inauguration funding was a rider in a proposed Privacy Act measure. The measure or House Bill No. 9-80-HD1, SD2, creates a system to regulate the use of personal information held by government agencies.
On Wednesday, the House passed the measure in a special session. Yesterday afternoon the Senate convened their own special session to approve the measure. The bill will be transmitted to the Office of the President today.
On January 19, Palau will swear in President Remengesau and 29 members of the Olbiil Era Kelulau (OEK).
Right before Christmas, the Senate rejected funding for the inauguration. Remengesau proposed $250,000 in funding with the support of the House of Delegates, the president also recommended that the procurement laws be waived for an easier planning of the event. With 14 days left until Inauguration, the Procurement law requirement for 30 day and 15 day announcement period cannot be met.
At the January 3rd leadership meeting, after another plea from President Remengesau, Speaker Sabino Anastacio, Senate President Camsek Chin and Senate Vice President Rukebai Inabo broke off from the leadership meeting for a separate private meeting.
Senator Inabo responded after that their concerns are the procurement waiver and the high amount of the budget and they agreed to bring the matter again for discussion at their Wednesday special sessions but they can’t promise to honor the request.
In Wednesday’s press conference, Remengesau said the Senate disagreeing to funding the inauguration is a “slap to the face of Palauan people.’
He also said there are off-island invitees to the event including the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) presidents.
The event is designated as an economic stimulus to the community with local food catering, supplies, face-lifting and nation-wide cleanup. President expressed hope that the leadership can reach an agreement.