President Dr. Hilda Heine addressed the nation last week as Nitijela reconvened, emphasizing the need for government offices to improve services to the public and promising that a constitutional convention will be held in the near future.
This was the new President’s first opportunity to speak in Nitijela since being sworn in the previous week. The Nitijela recessed after Friday’s session, and is expected to reconvene later this week.
In addition to government service and the Con-Con, Heine listed working with diplomatic partners, building on the international climate change action of President Loeak’s administration, and developing updated policies including an updated energy policy to guide the government.
The President also touched on plans announced last year while she was Minister of Education to increase the Marshallese language environment in both public elementary and high schools to improve their academic levels. On the serious illnesses affecting many Marshallese — from diabetes and cancer to TB and leprosy — Heine said the goal is to reduce these problems going forward toward to 2020.
On financially-related issues, the President said the new government needs to put in measures to improve use of resources and get its annual audits completed on time. She also wants to see more cooperation with the private sector to find ways to create jobs to address the high unemployment rate, which she said is above 30 percent.
The last item on the President’s punch list was “customer service.” She exhorted government workers to improve their service to the people of the Marshall Islands who are the “customers.”