Surangel Whipps Jr.’s Transition Team, which is tasked with overseeing the transition of power between the current and incoming administration, has said that it will be forming an Economic Recovery Committee probably in the coming week.
President-Elect Surangel Whipps Jr., who won the presidential race with 5,699 votes, has been a vocal proponent of reforming Palau’s economy throughout his campaign. The Economic Recovery Committee will reportedly be looking at ways to restart tourism, as well as ways to diversify Palau’s economy.
With the COVID pandemic halting all tourism to Palau, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) has projected a 25% drop in revenue between 2020 and 2021, and has predicted that the financial decline will not turn around for the next year.
The Co-Chairman of the Transition Team, Mr. Kione Isechal, said that the Recovery Committee will be working closely with the Ministry of Health (MOH) to find a way to open Palau to international travel and tourism in a manner that will not compromise the health of the people of Palau.
“We’re happy that the MOH has kept us all healthy,” said Mr. Isechal. “But at the same time, we’re starving.”
The Chairman says that Mr. Whipps’ administration will be looking for “recommendations which are implementable” when the President-Elect assumes office in January.
This announcement follows the development of a 90-percent effective COVID vaccine by American manufacturers Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech, which the MOH says may be available in Palau by early next year.
Palau has previously looked at Taiwan as a possible source of tourism, a country with no reports of community-transmitted COVID cases since April.
However, many business-owners have said that tourism is not a viable option while tourists have to undergo quarantine, especially when they must pay $150 a day for it. Last month, a planned travel bubble between Palau and Taiwan was postponed, allegedly due to Palau’s inability to relax quarantine protocol.
The Bureau of Tourism has said that it is currently working on a course to train and certify tourism companies to properly handle tourists in a safe manner, using PPE’s and taking measures to promote healthy hygiene, and that proposals are being developed to submit to the incoming President and his administration.
Mr. Whipps has also been vocal throughout his campaign on the need to diversify the economy.
The President-Elect has particularly given attention to the need to examine agriculture and aquaculture opportunities, and to reform tax laws to help out small business ventures in Palau.

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