Palau leadership meeting with Senators, Delegates, Governors, Speaker and President Remengesau and his Ministers. Also present was Director of WIOA and PPUC CEO and staff.

Members of the Senate Conference Committee were slammed yesterday during the national leadership meeting over the delay in passing the continuing budget resolution.
“Respect, respect, respect,” stressed President Remengesau, urging OEK to allow the Continuing Budget Resolution to pass as is. “Have faith in the next administration, in the next OEK” to develop their budget according to their plans and priorities.
Urging the Senate to work with the House to pass the budget as is, Remengesau said there was no reason to go into financial details. He said that should be the responsibility and privilege of the next government.
“Let’s not close our government on October 1st. The responsibility (of passing the budget) is ours and we must do it. Let’s respect the ability of the next government to come up with its own budget,’ added Remengesau.
With only four (4) days remaining before the FY 2020 ends, OEK was entreated to hold meetings until a solution is reached.
Senate Ways & Means Chairman Mark Rudimch said that they have been working on the budget with the House and that “our differences are not that many. The technical matters were removed during their previous meetings and in fact only two issues remain and they can close the gap. “We don’t want to close the government and we can work out our difference.”
He added this was not just the Senate but the work of both houses, together.
Senate Vice President Kerai Mariur said that the changes they have made on the budget were done, not because they were running for re-election but because it is their responsibility to do so.
He added that the committee has a job and a process to follow. If they cannot come to a resolution, they will report to the Senate President who can create another committee to address the issue. “We don’t want the government to close as well but we have to do our job.” He said concerns over the impact of the pandemic on Palau finances made them look at the budget for next year.
President Remengesau said, even if they can do that, the budget will only cover 3 months and then the new government will have to come up with its own new unified budget for the year.
The key point of contention is the proposed reduction of the Continuing budget. House is pushing to let it go as is while Senate wants to cut the items in the continuing budget.
Earlier President Remengesau submitted a bill proposing a Continuing Budget Resolution, which is to allow the government to continue to operate based on previous year’s budget for three (3) months until new government comes in and create its own budget.
He said this is a tradition and practice that has always been done during the final year of each government as respect to the incoming new government. This is to allow the next government to devise its own budget according to its own priorities and policies he said.
The bill went to the Senate and was amended to include reductions of 5% to 15% across the board of different government branches and agencies.
House of Delegates upon receiving the bill, removed the reductions, amended FY 2020 budget defining certain activities as regular budget items in order for them to continue under the Continuing Budget authorization.
Both houses created a joint Conference Committee to resolve the differences.
With four days remaining before this year’s budget lapse, the pressure is on the committee to finalize the budget but the committee still have not reached a compromise. They remained at impasse after their meeting yesterday and are expected to meet again today.

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