President-elect Surangel Whipps Jr. on Wednesday, named Kaleb Udui Jr. as his ministerial appointee to the Ministry of Finance and current Minister of Public Infrastructure, Industries & Commerce(MPIIC), Charles Obichang, to remain as the head of MPIIC.
Ending rampant speculations for these two ministries, Whipps said that identifying persons to head these ministries was very important. He that the need to have someone for the Ministry of Finance is critical due to the current financial position Palau is in and the need to start working on policy concessions required by the ADB loan needed to balance Palau’s budget and the urgent tax reform policy.
He endorsed Udui based on his extensive background and experience, especially being the first person to introduce the idea value added tax reform to Palau, having served as Director of Budget under the Ministry of Finance as well as having served as the President of National Development Bank of Palau.
Udui said that he was grateful for the confidence Whipps placed on him and looks forward to working to implement policies to help Palau in its recovery process.
Minister Charles Obichang, who is currently the appointed Minister of MPIIC under Remengesau’s administration, is Whipps choice to be the next Minister of MPIIC under his term. Obichang has served as a Minister of MPIIC under Remengesau’s last 8 years and if confirmed by Senate for this position again under President-elect Whipps, he would become the longest serving Minister of MPIIC.
Obichang also expressed his gratitude to Whipps for his appointment saying that perhaps the work he did under Remengesau’s administration have something to do with his selection and he said he was grateful to have been able to serve under Remengesau’s administration.
President-elect Whipps said that it is also good to have continuity and smooth transition. “We can say Obichang is a bridge for us,” added Whipps. One of the key features of Whipps recovery plan is to roll out as many construction projects as possible. This he said will contribute to local economic activity while we wait for tourism to pick up.
The two appointees will require confirmation of the Senate and Whipps said that he hope OEK will start working as soon as possible.
When asked when names of appointees for other Ministries such as Health and Education are expected, President-elect Whipps said that not until after the inauguration. He cited that former President Ngiratkel Etpison did not have ministers of two (2) years, implying that there is no real rush to get all the ministers appointed.
Earlier he had expressed that the road map being compiled by his transition committee will help clarify composition of the ministries and enable the search for the “best fit” for each ministry.