POHNPEI, 08 OCTOBER 2020(FSMIS/MARIANAS VARIETY) —- Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) President David Panuelo has signed into public law the budget for Fiscal Year 2021, which began on 01 October, 2020.

Due to the economic uncertainty posed by the Covid-19 Pandemic, the FY 2021 budget reflects a concerted effort to maintain the FSM’s capacity to provide essential services whilst ensuring that bureaucratic bloat is eliminated. Thus, while the FSM national government’s FY 2021 budget is US$63,760,476 (compared to US$71,808,353 for FY 2020), FSM citizens will only see an increase in services through the retention of all contemporary government programming and the development and implementation of the Office of Veterans Affairs.

The FSM national government’s FY 2021 budget is US$63,760,467. The Executive Branch’s FY 2021 budget includes US$22,664,212 for its operations, which is approximately one and a half million dollars lower than the FY 2020 budget of US$24,115,623. The Legislative Branch includes US$5,745,625 for its operations, which is nearly two million dollars lower than the FY 2020 budget of US$7,675,860. The Judicial Branch’s FY 2021 budget includes US$1,549,969 for its operations, which is nearly two hundred thousand dollars lower than the FY 2020 budget of US$1,724,023.

While the great bulk of the budget remains consistent with previous fiscal years to provide essential services to the FSM’s citizens, differences include funding the Office of Personnel (previously under the Department of Finance & Administration and the Office of the President respectively) as a separate standalone entity, so as to better empower the office to fulfill its mandate, as well as the development of a new Office of Veterans Affairs.

Other highlights in the budget include the appropriation of US$13,823,696 for capital improvements, development programs, and human resources development. Beyond ongoing support to the College of Micronesia-FSM and the FSM Fisheries & Maritime Institute, the FY 2021 budget includes US$661,713 for developing and implementing a National Social Indicators Survey, as well as $320,812 for the Localization of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in the FSM, and US$112,740 for “Assessment & Research to revive the [National Minimum Competency Test],” historically the FSM’s primary means of meaningfully comparing primary and secondary school student performance in areas such as English and Mathematics.

In addition to the formal FY 2021 budget’s appropriation of resources for essential services, social protection programs which began during the Covid-19 pandemic, such as the US$16,000,000 FSM Economic Stimulus Package (i.e. the Tourism Sector Mitigation Fund), the US$800,000 FSM Stranded Citizens Relief Fund, and the US$36,000,000 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Programme, remain ongoing…..PACNEWS

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