When asked how he would characterize 2018, what was successful and what was not, President Tommy Remengesau Jr. noted that “2018 was a good year”, citing a number of successful milestones accomplished in 2018.
Connecting Palau to the world via fiber optic cable was a major success of 2018 reported President Remengesau. Instead of the original price tag of $46 million dollars, Palau was able to get fiber optic connectivity by piggy-backing on the Asia-America Gateway (AAG) fiber optic cable between Asia, Guam and United States at half of the cost, $24 million dollars.
Another success noted was the final ratification of the Second Financial Package of the Compact by the United States Congress. The agreement has been languishing in US congress since 2010 but was finally ratified this year. In addition, United States agreed to advance the entire remaining balance to Palau instead of disbursing it annually. “Palau was able to successfully convince United States to advance entire remaining balance of the money so that we can invest it and earn interest income from it,” added Remengesau.
Obtaining $5 million dollars from Republic of Taiwan to help strengthen Palau’s food security was another cited milestone. The fund will go to develop agriculture and aquaculture projects which will help with “food security, society, culture and Palau’s sustainable future”.
Palau obtaining the pre-approved $15 million Resiliency Fund from Asian Development Bank for disaster mitigation is also cited by Remengesau as another accomplishment of 2018. The pre-approved loan can be drawn on immediately by a country when it declares a State of Emergency due to natural disaster. “God forbid we have another natural disaster but it is good to have this as we never know when disaster strikes,” stated Remengesau.
Not saying anything specifically negative about 2018, Remengesau called out debate of issues without alternative solutions provided. “It is bad politics saying ‘no’ with no alternatives and not making any decisions at all,” he said.
Remengesau added, “There are a lot of credit to go around here. All it takes is that we all come together and look at the program and what it can accomplish for Palau and Palauans. Debate without action is useless.”
“2018 was a good year and 2019 will be better” stated Remengesau his outlook for 2019. (L.N. Reklai)