President Surangel Whipps Jr. delivered his first State of The Republic Address yesterday and considers the passage of the realignment bill to reorganize the government as one of his biggest accomplishments to date.
Some sectors suggest that while the president delivered on his promised government reorganization, he fell short on providing direction towards a path to economic recovery.
“In these first one hundred days, we have not wasted any time. With the help of the Eleventh Olbiil Era Kelulau, we have begun implementing the recommendations of the transition committee.”
Our government is being reorganized and realigned to improve services through greater transparency and accountability. Certainly, it is not about scaling down the workforce; instead, it is about improving services.”
In time for the SORA, President Whipps signed the realignment bill into law which he said would improve the government and fulfill his campaign promise of creating a people-centered government.
Whipps reorganized the ministries, dismantling the Ministry of Community and Cultural Affairs and lumping most of its function into a new ministry called the Ministry of Human Resources, Culture, Tourism and Development (MHRCT&D).
The new ministry he said will “represents a movement toward greater opportunity, for all Palauans, through a people-centered approach and proactive efforts to build economic opportunity.”
President Whipps said a strategic plan will be drafted for the new ministries before he can identify ministers to lead the agencies.
The president also said Palau will continue to ward off coronavirus and its progress on the vaccination rate.
President thanked the United States for enabling Palau to vaccinate most of its people.
“Today, I stand here fully vaccinated, in a room of vaccinated people, in a country with perhaps the highest COVID-19 vaccination rate. We lead a nation that – God willing – may not ever see a single COVID-19 death. The chances are very slim, and we are safe, thanks to our friends in the United States of America.”
Whipps also said that during his 100 days, the travel bubble with Taiwan was launched, saying that it was not an easy task to restart Palau’s tourism.
“With a Sterile Corridor between Palau and the Republic of China (Taiwan), tourism has been restarted. This was not easy. It was not easy for health professionals, it was not easy for the tourism industry, and frankly, it was not easy for both countries, but we came together, and we took a bold step forward,” he said.
He however reminded the nation that Palau’s debt is increasing because it has to borrow money to maintain government operations.
With the tax reform. the general imports tax will be replaced with the Palau Goods and Services Tax (a value-added tax and moving from gross revenue taxation to the Business Profits Tax.
He reiterated that the government is working on tax reforms and the development of other sectors including domestic fishery and agriculture.