FY 2022 Supplemental budget bill appropriating a $2.6 million grant to fund certain government operations was stripped of the riders that would amend the Palau National Marine Sanctuary Act.
The bill passed the 2nd reading in the Senate and is pending the 3rd and final reading.
President Whipps said this was unacceptable and, if passed as is, may get returned with his PD1 version.
The proposed policies included a mandate for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Environment to conduct Marine Spatial Planning, amend PNMS Act, and create an exception for MAFE to permit limited fishing within the 80% no-take zone for experimental fishing purposes, and lastly, changing the role of PICRC in the PNMS.
The Senate version, passed in the 2nd reading, recognized the role of MAFE in coordinating spatial planning, providing recommendations to OEK for legislative actions and overall administration of the PNMS.
The Committee report said it recognizes the need to “remove overlapping duties and responsibilities between PICRC and the Executive Branch” but also states that “many Senators believe that policy changes at this time have not undergone proper consultation process that includes public review…and therefore, they will not be adopted at this time.”
$1.8 million out of the $2.6 million grant funding from international organizations, The Nature Conservancy, Neo Terra, and Conservation International, was appropriated to fund various programs in education, marine law enforcement, MAFE, Palau Visitors Authority. 800K was divided among the 16 states using the fishing rights division formula.
The supplemental budget bill also included $200K to Olbiil Era Kelulau, split with $100K to the Senate and $100K to the House of Delegates. Local revenue is the identified source of funding for this increase.