Despite expectation that the Kili-Bikini-Ejit session with the Nitijela Public Accounts Committee would offer some drama — fueled by repeated rescheduling from Public Accounts to allow KBE more time to go through its audit reports — the dialogue went smoothly compared to a majority of the PAC hearings.
The hearing, in short, can be described as the weakest in terms of aggressiveness from PAC members. Even PAC Chair Senator Bruce Bilimon questioned his own question as to whether it was appropriate and within scope of of the PAC oversight role.
“It’s your money, you should spend it how you want,” Namu Senator Tony Aiseia said.
KBE Mayor Anderson Jibas entered the hearing midway, arriving straight from the airport.
Mayor Anderson was in time to reiterate what he said at another hearing conducted in Washington, DC by Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski. This time, Anderson added a tweak: “I want to assure people that the money in the trust fund is not going to run out,” he said. “But, if that money runs out, are we going to crawl back for more?”
After a brief silence, Mayor Anderson said “the US will have to give us money.”
Earlier in his testimony, Anderson said the US government still owes the people of Bikini and the Marshall Islands.
To show his appreciation for the PAC focus on KBE, the mayor announced that he brought coolers filled with food and drinks for the committee members.
Read more about this in the August 3, 2018 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.