President Remengesau is not keen on the idea of repealing the Environmental Impact Fee (EIF) as proposed by House bill 10-22-1.
Remengesau , who is off-island in a statement on Wednesday stated that the EIF “is a crucial component of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS) – fundamental to its structure, plans, and strategy, and implementation stages leading up the full effect of the PNMS in 2020.” [restrict]
The statement was in response to House of Delegates giving the green light to the repeal of the additional fee to be levied on tourists come April 1st and maintaining the current $50 departure tax and green fee for each visitor coming to the country.
“Simply put, the EIF is not meant as an additional or supplemental source of revenue, but is meant to be a financing method from which we collect the principal funds to restructure our economic base and collect the necessary funding to safeguard our natural resources and strengthen our economic base. That base is tourism. And tourism relies on Palau’s marine and terrestrial environment to be protected and preserved in the utmost capable manner.”
House Bill 10-22-1 or the proposed measure to repeal the EIF is now with the Senate for discussion, but in today’s session, the Senate did not discuss the proposal.
Senate Committee on Ways and Means chairman Mark Rudimch said senators take on the EIF repeal “is a little different.”
“The position to be recommended is still being worked on,” Rudimch said in an email. He however did not elaborate on the recommendations of the Senate.
The existing PNMS law mandates that the new $100 fee takes effect on April 1, 2017, although Remengesau has taken the position to delay the fee until April 1, 2018, an amendment to the statute is necessary.
With 14 days left, Congress’s failure to pass the changes will render the law effective by April 1
HOD passed on third and final reading the bill scrapping the EIF, citing declining tourism numbers and that it would further impede any opportunity to increase visitors to Palau.
However, Remengesau added in his statement that Palau was never concerned with the tourists quantity but rather attract the high value tourists.
“Furthermore, we have taken the initiative to embrace the concept of quality tourism instead of quantity tourism. Palau has embarked forward with a new identity that puts value tourism atop its economic priorities by promoting ourselves as Pristine Paradise. Palau,” he added.
Senators Uduch Sengebau Senior and Rukebai Inabo are not supporting repeal to the EIF, echoing Remengesau’s position that the EIF is an integral part of the PNMS and should not be scrapped altogether
Inabo said Palau would lose millions of dollars with the further delay of the EIF implementation. [/restrict]