President Surangel Whipps Jr. is welcomed with open arms by the Airai State government and its constituency during his 14th State visit after he had visited 13 out of the 16 states of Palau.
“Welcome home, Mr. President” sign hung over the platform where the leadership of Airai State, President Whipps, Speaker Sabino Anastacio, and Airai State Delegate Vicky Kanai sat facing the people of Airai State last night at the Community Center in Kesebelau, Airai.
Whipps hails from Airai State, and the people of Airai made an issue of that fact, extending a warm welcome with local food and drinks. Whipps, who is also from Ngatpang state, spurred the sentiment by saying that though he comes from Ngatpang, his heart is in Airai.
President Whipps has been conducting state visits, reporting on the progress his administration has made in the past year and a half and the challenges met. Some of the highlights he made included the new revenue generated as a result of the efforts of his ministers, such as new income from the digital residency program, the money environmental investors to offset fishing revenue loss for the next three years, and the increase in Palau’s share from the US Tuna Treaty.
“We have to try out best to find opportunities that benefit our people,” declared Whipps of the efforts that they have made to secure an increase in the US Fishing Treaty fee.
The state visits also give the Whipps administration opportunities to hear communities’ concerns. “All of us are here to listen, to hear your concerns. It’s okay if you scold us, it is our responsibility to hear you out,” added Whipps.
Concerns raised included infrastructure improvement issues such as the connection of running water to the areas that still have no running water, poor telephone or cellphone connection services also in certain areas of Airai, police presence in the community, and difficulty accessing the USDA office for financing services due to restrictive requirements for entering the U.S. Embassy.
Heads of different agencies such as the Social Security Administration, Director of Public Works, and a representative from Palau National Communications Corporation and as well as representatives of all eight ministries, were on hand to respond to people’s concerns.
An Airai citizen, Reginald Augustine, lauded President Whipps’s work, saying, “we want to get you back again as president.”
The remaining two states for President Whips to hold state visits are Hatohobei State, scheduled for tonight, Tuesday, August 30, and Melekeok State, scheduled for Wednesday, August 31, 2022.