By: L.N. Reklai
July 11, 2016 (Koror) President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. signed into law supplemental budget bill authorizing and appropriating additional $4,622,500.00 million dollars to supplement the FY 2016 Unified Budget.
“As with any appropriations bill, this piece of legislation is needed for the continued well functioning of the government,” addressed President Remengesau to the members of both Senate and House during their leadership meeting yesterday.
Stating that he did not cut or remove any amount added by both House and Senate, except for BSCC funding, President Remengesau signed the bill into law RPPL 9-62. Belau Submarine Cable Corporation was just recently been funded through RPPL 9-60.
Senator Surangel Whipps Jr. asked about the Funds Availability Analysis that President Remengesau submitted with the Supplemental Budget and recommended that it be revised to reflect this increase. President’s original request was for $3.4 million and final OEK version raised it to $4.9 million.
“I have exercised restrain in not reducing additional items but I am advising the Minister of Finance to closely monitor revenue collections to ensure that expenditures do not exceed actual revenue receipts,” stated Remengesau.
“As always, we continue to take cautious and conservative approach in managing our expenditures so that the end of the fiscal year, we can have a balanced budget,” added President Remengesau.
“I would acknowledge that this is the third straight supplemental budget in which OEK has an increased appropriation while the Office of the President continues to operate at a reduced budget level for FY 2016. I would like to reiterate the need for all parts of the government to manage costs as efficiently as possible,” stated Remengesau.
The budget bill also included policy decisions such as postponing of the collection of EIF to April 2017 and removing the visa fee (VF) as well as lowering the SS retirement age to 60 and the continuing budget authority for FY 2017.
President Remengesau stated that he had no objection to the continuing budget authority. “I appreciate the fact that OEK has anticipated the upcoming elections and expected delay in the unified budget for FY 2017 and addressed this in this legislation.” He added that he will be submitting a draft legislation to clarify some of the languages in the bill so that important programs will not be disrupted come October 2016, such as $50 benefit payment for SS and State block grants.
Delegate Jonathan Isechal, Chairman of House Ways & Means Committee in a phone interview, said that he was happy with the outcome and expressed his appreciation to his colleagues in the House and the Senate for working together to get this bill out. He also expressed his appreciation to President Remengesau for approving and signing the bill into law. [/restrict]