The supplemental budget that includes injecting more money to the Ministry of Health (MOH) to deal with the impacts of the coronavirus is on its way to President Remengesau after the House of Delegates agreed to follow the Senate version of the legislation.
Senate and House of Delegates yesterday held a conference committee ironing out the differences between each chamber’s versions of the supplemental budget.
In the approved bill both by the members of the Senate and the House of Delegates, the MOH will get total funding of $916,807.53 that will ensure that preventive measures will be implemented and at the same time continue with the day to day service of the ministry.
Health Minister Emais Roberts in his request for funding from the OEK said: “there are no-cost that can replace any human life let alone the lives of any Palauan from infancy to the elderly.”
The proposed funding for the MOH increased from what President Tommy Remengesau Jr. originally submitted.
The HOD also followed the Senate’s proposal to slash the $75,000 funding for the Saipan-Belau Bai Project, $200,000 appropriation for the Compact Chief Representative and Review Advisory Group.
The OEK version also proposed that the government source at least $ 6 million from the General Reserve Fund instead of the Pristine Paradise Environmental Fee ((PPEF) in anticipation of the drop in revenue collection due to the coronavirus fears.
Although the House agreed with the Senate on this issue, it however still expresses concern over the use of the General Reserves Fund because it conflicts with the law that prescribes when it can be utilized.
The OEK also agreed to earmark money to bail out the beleaguered Palau Public Utilities Corporation (PPUC) who has said that it will be “in danger” of going broke and shutting down after April 2020 f no help will come their way.
Both houses agree to appropriate the sum of $1.8 million for PPUC as a “reimbursable subsidy” that will be sourced from the government’s General Reserve Fund.
The government is also helping secure a concessionary loan to help PPUC’s finances in order.
The Senate also agreed to the HOD’s budget increase of $200,000 and state block grants increase of $50,000 for each state across the board.
The HOD also dropped its proposed policy changes to lock in a portion of PPEF for the Civil Service Pension Plan (CSPP). (Bernadette Carreon)