With a week before the primary election, four presidential aspirants enter into the final sprint of the campaign, taking their messages to the voters on various issues from COViD-19 related economic crisis, marine sanctuary, Compact negotiations and new initiatives to bring revenues to the country.
Vice President Raynold Oilouch, businessman Alan Seid, former president Johnson Toribiong and entrepreneur Surangel Whippsjr. will battle it out at the primary scheduled on September 22.
The top two vote-getters then face each other at the Nov. 3 general elections.
Oilouch said as a current member of the government who has deeper insight into the government operation and its response to COVID-19 , he can provide the nation a better stability coming into the next administration.
“The next president of Palau should provide stability, should provide assurance to the Palauan people that we remain united, that we should be together and we will get through this temporary hardship together , not the time to divide the community, not the time to scare Palauan people,” he said.
Oilouch is not in favor of cutting the FY2021 budget saying that jobs and services will be affected if cuts are made.
Oilouch said he is not in favor of abolishing the PNMS, but if he sees problems in it then it should be reviewed to ensure that the law can be improved.
“One idea that I proposed, the current 20 percent which allows fishing there, one way of doing it is to move it around if the 20 percent has no fish in it,” he said.
For the Compact renegotiation, Seid said if he makes it in the primary, he will propose for this government to cease negotiating the Compact and leave it to the next administration to do so.
Whipps on the other hand said it doesn’t matter when or who negotiates the current Compact but hopes that the negotiating team knows what it is doing and will get the best deal for Palau.
Oilouch for its part said that the Compact renegotiation should not be a political issue for the candidates and should let the negotiating do its work.
Oilouch, Seid and Whipps are in favor of re-opening the borders for international tourism.
“I really want to reopen the borders as soon as possible, I think we must look seriously into having clear methodology of testing , allow tourists to be tested 48 hours before flying and I think we should be cutting days of quarantine days from 14 to 7 days,” Seid said.He will propose the waiver of visa fees to allow tourists to stay longer in Palau.He said it’s not economically viable to continue border closure.
Toribiong for his part believed that the health of the people are more important than the economy.
For new revenues for Palau, Whipps said he believes in investing in the Palauan people by improving the educational system, raising the minimum wage, and tax reforms.
As the candidates enter the last stretch of campaigning, more house- to -house visits, town hall meetings and talks shows have been scheduled by the candidates in the final week,