• By Pacific Island Times News

FSM economic relief for tourism businesses ready for release


FSM President David Panuelo meets with members of 21st Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia' during their Fourth Regular Session on May 11, 2020. Photo courtesy of FMSIS

Palikir, Pohnpei— The first batch of checks amounting to $500,000 in relief assistance will be released on March 13 to tourism-related businesses in the Federated States of Micronesia that are affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Office of the President announced Tuesday.

The initial release is part of the $1 million allotment for Tourism Sector Mitigation Fund, which provides relief assistance to hospitality businesses that have lost sources of revenue as a result of the government's coronavirus-related ban on the entry of foreign travelers into the FSM.

The Tourism Sector Mitigation Fund is a component of the $15 milion economic stimulus package established by Public Law 21-105, which temporarily diverts funding from the nation’s fishing access fees and from revenue derived from major corporations to the economic stimulus package.

During the 21st Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia's Fourth Regular Session on May 11, FSM President David Panuelo and Vice President Yosiwo P. George solicited the legislators' support for expanding the economic stimulus package to include other sectors of the FSM’s economy. Panuelo and George sought legislation intended to allow this functionality.

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Sen. Esmond B. Moses, chairman of the Committee to Wait, said Congress would be happy to review any proposed legislation as it is Congress’ intent to ensure all sectors of the nation, not only the tourism sector, are able to endure during these unprecedented times.

The president further noted that the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program will take effect in the coming weeks, and that it will be open to all individuals who have lost their jobs—or their hours—due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The conversation then segued to updates on how the nation is tackling Covid-19. “All of the hospitals have already received their Covid-19 testing machines,” said Secretary Livingston A. Taulung, of the Department of Health & Social Affairs. “They have both ABBOT-ID machines as well as the GeneXpert machines. Chuuk has 900-some tests, Pohnpei in excess of 600- some, and I believe about 400 or so each for Yap and Kosrae.”

Panuelo said he met with Pohnpei Gov. Reed B. Oliver over the weekend. “He has agreed to align Pohnpei with the national government to ensure that essential personnel in interstate travel are medically screened but not quarantined for 14 days," the president said. "This will allow ease-of-use in the distribution of medical supplies and personnel to our sister states through our air and sea vessels.”

The president noted that the state governors have an interest in ensuring a unified approach that is respectful of each individual state’s wishes. “In Chuuk, for example,” Panuelo said, “the governor has requested that all individuals whose final destination is in the Mortlocks or the Northwest Islands first visit Weno for medical screening. We are cooperating on this issue.”

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