The second State of the Republic Address (SORA) issued by President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. this April called for more self-reliant nation.

“We have graduated and with that comes greater responsibility,” stated Remengesau Jr. in his address to the nation on April 17th, 2018.

In his address to the nation, Remengesau expressed that Palau’s development successes over the past 20 years had resulted in Palau’s income classification by World Bank changing to “High Income” country.

As a result, according to SORA, Palau will no longer be eligible for certain global development funding, “despite the fact that we are also classified as a small island developing state that is highly vulnerable to mounting impacts of climate change.”

In addition to not being eligible to many development funding, Palau’s second financing period under the Compact of Free Association with United States is ending in six years, by 2024.

“Our designation as “High Income” country highlights the importance of reducing our reliance on external aid.”

Furthermore, Remengesau expressed that Palau continues to be vulnerable to impacts of climate change that can be devastating to an island country.

“The recovery cost of one typhoon such as Typhoon Bopha or Haiyan, can wipe out any gains we have made in the last decades,” stated Remengesau of Palau’s vulnerability.

How Palau addresses these challenges, Remengesau asserted, “we must focus our efforts on expanding our revenue base to respond to our new development status and expanded funding requirements.”

“We must begin to look at how we can mobilize domestic resources including our domestic savings and investments in the international stock market, towards those areas that we target for development,” stated Remengesau in the SORA.

Moreover Palau must build its capacity to “access and implement available financial and technical assistance from our multilateral and development partners.”  He said public and private partnership will lower government burden and expand available financing options.

Remengesau asserted that Palau needs not only to enhance tourism industry but also to diversify its economic opportunities.

In the SORA he pointed out the vulnerability of Palau’s tourism industry to strong competition within the Asian tourism markets, political turmoil in key markets, increasing costs of fuel, increasing severity of climate change impacts and strong U.S. dollars among others.  He pushed for tourism policy that promotes high value tourism brand over mass tourism.

Remengesau said that the way forward in addressing these medium term challenges are contained in the Platform and Plan of Action in 2016 called Management Action Plan (MAP).  The eight areas focused in the plan include Safeguarding Family Income Gains and Retirements, Developing Key Economic Sectors to Support Sustainable Growth and Development, Protecting and Preserving our Environment, Expanding and Maintaining our Basic Infrastructure, Strengthening  Education, Health and Public Safety Services, Sustaining Increased Support for Youth, the Aged and the Vulnerable Populations, Containing Cost of Government and Enacting and Promulgating needed laws and regulations.

Remengesau expressed that issues facing Palau are complex and the key to achieving success is cooperation and respect of the key roles each play amongst all national and state leaders. (Reklai)