House of Delegates passed the Blue Prosperity Plan bill in the FY 2022 Supplemental Budget, amending the Palau National Marine Sanctuary Act with 10 yes and 4 no votes.

The bill passed its 3rd and final reading on Sunday night and was transmitted to Senate. It will go through 3 readings in the Senate before it goes to the President.  As a budget bill, it is expected to pass quickly, although it is unclear how the Senate will treat the Blue Prosperity Plan.

The proposal simply divides up the $2.8 million received from “environmental investors” to keep PNMS intact for 3 years while the government conducts its spatial planning project.  It is required that Congress authorize and appropriate the funds for expenditure.

There has been no indication that the money being appropriated for expenditure had conditional requirements.  Congress may appropriate as they see fit.

The funds under this House bill 11-64-7s are appropriated to different ministries with $800,000 divided between the 16 states.

While the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Environment (MAFE) is tasked to provide recommendations after 3 years to the congress on the PNMS law, the bill proposes to make significant changes to the PNMS, including placing the entire management of the PNMS under MAFE and giving the minister authority to conduct fishing experiments within the no-take-zone by the “local community-based” fishery within the 3-year study period. 

The House version, however, removes the automatic appropriation of the 5% of the PPEF from PICRC as well as MAFE.

“Like any other ministries, MAFE should come each year to justify their budget requests,,” explained Delegate Menkuk of Koror State.

“Spatial planning is a planning process…It’s a planning process where you will need studies to help you decide what you want to do… when there’s no study available to help you develop that data,” explained Minister Steven Victor during the May 25 press conference.

Voting yes for the bill were Speaker Sabino Anastacio, Delegate Mengkur Rechelulk, Delegate Lee Otobed, Delegate Mario Gulibert, Delegate Warren Umetaro, Delegate Noah Kemesong, Delegate Frutoso Tellei, Delegate Vicky Kanai, Delegate Yutaka Gibbons Jr., and Delegate Masasinge Arurang.  Delegates voting no were Delegate Gibbson Kanai, Delegate Timothy Sinsak, Delegate Ngiraiwet, and Delegate Swenny Ongidobel.  Delegate Nace Soalablai voted abstain which is counted as yes vote. Delegate Sebastian Marino was absent.

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