P7 Interior Plumbing and Aeronautics by Joe Murphy Recently a special Committee on Resources and Development appointed by HiCom Adrian Winkel came to Majuro to meet with local authorities and businesspeople to find out what could be learned about the development desires of the Marshallese people. “We have come to see how we can help, if possible” is how the visit was described. Such, of course, is the frame of mind one always comes to the district with. People leave Saipan and come to the districts to “help” the districts. Mention was made of a mysterious district plan here in the Marshalls that the special committee people had been promised a copy but which had not yet been made available.
Ron Levy of RRE said he did not see how we could talk about development since the committee didn’t have the plan and the local authorities did not make the plan available to local business people. So what do you do in a meeting when around 30 business people sit and hear that the plan they have become to discuss is not available either to the guys conducting the meeting or the attendees? You knock Air Micronesia because they charge too much for air freight for people who live in Majuro. You knock the shipping companies for their high rates. If you are a shipper, you knock the lack of government subsidy for shippers. You decry the lack of political certainty. You tell the Saipan people that if they cannot effectively regulate air and sea transportation and freight rates, that maybe they should try to get a federal agency to do it — just after urging more decentralization. You wonder what the Saipan people are going to do when they go back to Saipan with all this information. “We’re going to make a report to the High Commissioner…” You wonder if Winkel will actually read it? Will it be printed? Discussed at a headquarters cabinet meeting? Left with a coffee ring on it? Placed on top of the “Must Do” pile?
Just think of it — the possibilities are limitless. And it creates work. Something to do. Might even demand a follow up! Ah to govern!
P2 Funding cutbacks stymie water upgrade Majuro faces a bleak future with regard to existing fresh water supplies, according to Bernie Cotter, Majuro Water and Sewer Company manager. This assessment was made in response to Journal questions triggered by an MWSC notice in the paper announcing a cutoff of all new hook ups due to funding problems. “MWSC is receiving 38 percent less subsidy this year,” said Cotter. This is enough to maintain “our current level of service barely,” he said. “We have the water, but our distribution system is very poor. The lines that are in place now were all installed in a haphazard way and there was no overall plan.” Funding problems will likely prevent improvements from being realized.
P1 Passport probe A naturalized Marshallese citizen has petitioned the High Court to order the RMI government to renew his passport. But an official in the Attorney General’s office said that all requests for renewals of purchased RMI passport are under investigation — and therefore at least temporarily, on hold — as part of a broader probe by the Task Force on Accountability of the previous passport sales program.
P10 ‘Marshalls: clean up your act’ by US Representatives Doug Bereuter and Don Young We are alarmed at the opportunities lost by the Marshall Islands over the last decade to make significant progress in achieving economic self-sufficiency. Since the inception of the Compact, nearly $1 billion of US aid has been provided to the Marshall Islands. The US State Department characterized the RMI Government as “a swollen and inefficient public sector that continues to swallow a substantial percentage of the national budget.” The General Accounting Office testified before Congress that waste, fraud, mismanagement and misuse of funds continues to be a serious problem. No doubt some of the responsibility for this lies with the US government for not providing sufficient guidance and oversight. We intend to fix that. But we cannot ignore the failure of the Marshall Islands Government to live up to its part of the contract. Despite massive aid, hospitals and schools are in disrepair and lack basic supplies. Unemployment is excessive.