By: L.N. Reklai
November 30, 2016 (Koror, Palau) President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. signed into law House bill 9-6-1, HD1, SD2, PD2 on Wednesday before members of the Senate and House, making this the 64th bill to become law this 9th national government.
Calling the bill, a “historical improvement”, President Remengesau highlighted the key aspects of the bill that improve significantly the existing foreign investment regime.
In his transmittal statement, President stated that the people of Palau, the government and the private sector have all been waiting long for this reform.
The improvements cited include giving the law teeth or ability of the Board to enforce the law and stiff penalties for violations.
Additionally, it defines the term “front business” and provides criteria for defining business ownership. It also puts into place requirements that would provide greater transparency and discourage possible money laundering activities.
Senator Mason Whipps called the bill a “monumental” bill. He thanked the House of Delegates for retaining the riders that Senate inserted in the bill to ensure a more comprehensive coverage of foreign investment. “This law is actually made up of 4 different bills with similar intentions and despite our sometimes differing opinions, we all worked together to improve this bill and to successfully pass it into law,” added Senator Mason Whipps. “This law should be attributed to Merol Ngirmeriil. He was one of those people that came to every hearing and gave his opinion and concerns about the bill and he would be very happy to see it finally become law.”
The law has separate section addressing land and water transportation businesses. “I am very happy that this finally passed. This is one of the reasons I ran for OEK. I wanted to make sure that the Palauans have their interests and well-being as first priority,” says Senator Phillip Reklai. “I’ve been fighting against front businesses and to make sure Palauans own the local transportation industry and I am very happy to see it become a reality.”
President Remengesau Jr. pointed out certain sections that needs further clarifications and improvement and asked Speaker Sabino Anastacio and OEK members present to work together in the 10th OEK to make those corrections to this “historical” act. [/restrict]