The United States had announced $1,209,666 worth of financial assistance to Palau under its fiscal year 2019 Technical Assistance Program (TAP) shortly after President Donald Trump’s meeting with Palau President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. and two other Freely Associated State (FAS) leaders in Washington last month.

In a press statement furnished to the media, the United States Department of Interior (DOI) revealed that the fund will help Palau in assessing health needs, improving collaboration among law enforcement and public safety divisions, modernizing regulations to conserve natural and cultural resources, and strengthening maritime safety and security.

Out of the total amount of grant assistance, $364,174 will be allocated for Palau’s Ministry of Justice (MOJ)to install networking software that can be used by the ministry in extracting and sharing information among its divisions.

A total of $364,174 from the assistance will also be spent in conducting community health assessment in the country to obtain information that will aid decision makers about the nation’s health status, according to the press statement.

“The community health assessment will assist the health department in determining how to prioritize needs, allocate resources, and assist communities in addressing the key social determinants of health that influence choices and behaviors,” the press statement read.

Aside from that, the Environmental Quality Protection Board will also get an amount worth $75,000 to aid the office in modernizing the country’s environmental regulations among which include the Marine and Fresh Water regulations, the Public Water Supply Regulations, and the Environmental Impact Statement Regulations.

Five hundred and thirty thousand dollars will also go to the US Coastguard’s 14th District in Honululu, Hawaii which, according to the press statement, will benefit Palau as it will collaborate closely with the country “to provide aids-to-navigation infrastructure improvements in the waters of Koror.”

“These funds that are made available by the U.S. Congress each year for the U.S. territories and freely associated states are critical to strengthening public services in the islands and laying a foundation for better economic development resources and opportunities. This year’s projects are only a small portion of the immensely beneficial relationship that the U.S. and Palau share under the Compact of Free Association,” U.S. Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs Doug Domenech was quoted saying in the press statement.

FAS leaders was invited in a meeting with Trump in Washington on May 21 in the wake of reports of rising tension between China and US ignited by the trade war. The meeting was seen as a US move to counter growing Chinese influence in the Pacific. (By Rhealyn C. Pojas)