Leaders of the 17th Kayangel State Government joined Vice President Senior and other members of the Executive Branch in a two-day Governance Clinic this week, designed to provide capacity-building for local leaders during the political transition.
The clinic is part of the Palau Local Governance Strengthening Project, a partnership between the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Ministry of State (MOS) to help develop local governance capacity, particularly in project implementation and financial management. Similar clinics have been held for other states since the start of the project in 2016.
Among other topics, much of the clinic revolved around the relationship between Kayangel State and the National Government, especially in fund allocations.
Kayangel State Governor Richard Ngiraked, who assumed office in July 2020, said that this sort of communication between the State and National Governments is especially important for the process of financial auditing and management. As part of the performance budget system which the National Government is using, states must submit annual performance reports which highlight what outcomes they are hoping to achieve, so that they can receive appropriate amounts of money from the National Government. Governor Ngiraked said that he is currently working on Kayangel’s performance report.
Minister of Finance Kaleb Udui Jr. said that submitting good, detailed performance reports is even more important now due to the pandemic. Due to the extensive borrowing which the National Government has been doing, the Minister said that it might take ten years for Palau to recover from the pandemic. While states should not expect cuts in their budget this year, he said that this may change in future years.
“We’re very fortunate this year that we’re able to borrow money to fund government expenditure . . . [but] unless we open up the country soon, we may have to start cutting government expenditure,” said Minister Udui. “If the budget gets tighter, then performance reports mean a lot more . . . if we have to make a hard decision, we want to make sure we use information to justify where the money is going.”
The Minister stressed that the Budget Office is there to help states such as Kayangel with their financial systems, with everything from accounting to procurement.
The clinic also involved presentations from the Palau Grant Office, the Capital Improvement Projects (CIP), the Office of the Public Auditor, the Environmental Quality Protection Board (EQPB), and the Historical Preservation Office (HPO) in order to outline the requirements for development and project implementation in the states.
Governor Ngiraked said that Kayangel’s biggest opportunity for development is in fish farming, with projects already underway to raise and sell rabbitfish.
The governor also said that Kayangel is looking for grant aid in removing large amounts of plastic pollution from Kayangel’s beaches, which washes up from the ocean. While the National Landfill in Aimeliik can accommodate waste from Kayangel as well as the Babeldaob states, Governor Ngiraked said that financial constraints make ferrying the trash to Babeldaob a problem.
The clinic took place at West Plaza Hotel on Lebuu Street. The Kayangel leadership also visited the Olbiil Era Kelulau in Ngerulmud on the second day to gain greater insight into the process of passing bills and resolutions.