President Surangel Whipps Jr. who first his first address after taking his oath of office yesterday said it’s time to strengthen Palau’s workforce, build a  people-centered government and aim for a strong economy, amid a pandemic that resulted in job losses and a “large” budget shortfall.

Whipps’s speech detailed a laundry list of top priorities for his administration which he said will be “people-centered” and urged the Olbiil Era Kelulau to work with him to pass bills that will rebuild the economy, ensuring that opportunities are given to the people and not just handouts.

‘We have to work hard for each and every Palauan. We have to give our people the opportunities to grow and help themselves and their families. We need to ensure that we teach and provide the tools to our people to fish and not just to give them fish. After all, we are fishermen and that’s what we do,” Whipps said.

‘As we commence this new administration, we must ask ourselves whether or not our government is providing adequate public service; whether or not our government is operating efficiently; whether or not our government is providing jobs at decent wages; whether or not it can provide equitable retirement and acceptable health care for all. Is it teaching and promoting our cultural arts, language, and history? Where the answer is no, that is where we should be focusing our efforts and being mindful that our government’s budget comes from hard-working taxpayers. As public servants, we must be good stewards of what we have been entrusted with. The budget must be responsible, transparent, balanced, and accountable.”

Because he wants Palauans to come first in rebuilding the economy, Whipps said his administration will create a ministry of Human Resources Tourism and Economic Development.

Whipps also highlighted anew his campaign promises, from aiming a higher education for the people, promoting local labor, build a world-class health care system, he also said it’s time to change the way government works, through realignment.

“The many ministries, bureaus, and offices of our national government fill important functions. But just because something is, does not mean that is how it should be. Where similar roles are performed by different offices, we should be able to find synergies and provide a better service by realigning responsibilities.”

Whipps also reiterated that Palauans must be the priority of the development and prosperity under his watch.

“It’s time we come together to put the Palauan people first: A Kot A Rechad Er Belau. It’s time for the Palauan people to once again demand transparency and accountability from their government.”

It’s time for the Palauan people to once again know that if they work hard, they will be fairly rewarded. It’s time for the Palauan people to once again take control of their own destinies, he said. 

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