President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. signed an executive order (EO) to create a committee that will be tasked in developing and managing housing in Palau.

Executive Order No. 420, which was signed by Remengesau yesterday during the leadership meeting at the Old Olbiil Era Kelulau (OEK) building, mandates the creation of the Republic of Palau Housing Development and Financing Program Committee to address the lack of affordable yet quality housing options and the displacement brought by the return of public lands to rightful clan owners.

The committee, under the EO, is mandated to form a membership composed of a representative from the Office of the President who will serve as chairperson, a representative from the Council of Chiefs, the Minister of Finance, Minister of Public Infrastructure, Industries and Commerce, Director of the Palau Public Lands Authority, the Executive Director of the Environmental Quality Protection Board (EQPB), the President of the National Development Bank of Palau, Executive Director of the Palau Housing Authority, a representative of the Governor’s Association, and a representative from the Palau Chamber of Commerce. Of these members, however, the President of the National Development Bank of Palau, the Executive Director of the Palau Housing Authority, and the Representative from the Palau Chamber Commerce are named non-voting members of the committee.

Remengesau, through the EO, pointed out that many Palauans chose to relocate abroad due to lack of lands and high rental costs in the market that are taking almost 50% of household income. This, according to the executive order, has worsen the downward population trend brought by low birth rates and emigration.

“The creation of a systematic housing program to develop new housing opportunities, particularly affordable housing, in Palau will encourage Palauans living abroad to return to and contribute to our country’s growth,” the EO reads.By building new communities throughout the country with the collaboration of state governments, land owners, and private agencies, among others, the EO contends that economic activities will also be spread across the country and will help expand real revenue options at the state level.

Among the responsibilities set through the executive order are the proposition of policies and goals intended for the Housing Development and Financing Program implementation, collaborating with state governments and private parties in identifying and allocating lands to be utilized for the development of new housing communities, and developing housing master plans with necessary parties, among others.

The EO also encourages for the planning on the housing development to be anchored on the idea of establishing the project on the townships and new communities in Babeldaob. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)