Foreign assistance begins pouring into Palau, whose coronavirus-battered economy has been compounded by Typhoon Surigae that caused damage to homes and properties and left many areas without power, water and telecommunications.
President Surangel Whipps Jr. on Thursday will deliver his first state of the republic address before a joint session of Olbiil Era Kelulau, marking his first 100 days in office.
Palau has managed to fend off the Covid-19 transmission but not the global impact of the pandemic on tourism, its main economic driver. And amid its struggle to recover, the Pacific nation now deals with the widespread damage brought about by the April 16 storm, but help is starting to flow,
The Asian Development Bank announced the approval of a $25-million policy-based loan to help Palau’s economy rebound from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Recovery through Improved Systems and Expenditure Support Programme will help strengthen public financial management in the country, reduce fiscal risks, and support private sector development to restore sustained and equitable economic growth.
“This support will help Palau’s tourism-dependent economy bounce back from the impact of COVID-19 and drive it toward a more sustainable fiscal path,” said ADB Public Sector Economist Rommel Rabanal. “This, in turn, will translate to improved living standards for current and future generations of Palauans.”
The assistance is the first phase of a program developed in partnership with Palau to implement key reforms to safeguard fiscal sustainability and support recovery from the pandemic.
"As part of the program, the government is introducing overarching fiscal responsibility legislation that will guide efforts to strengthen the management of public revenue, expenditure, debt, and fiscal buffers. Further private sector development, which will be critical for longer-term growth, is supported by the program through improvements in regulatory frameworks covering business registrations, public–private partnerships, and international arbitration," ADB said.
On April 23, Taiwan Ambassador Wallace M.G. Chow handed over Taipei's $1-million donation for Palau's tourism revitalization and repair of typhoon-damaged facilities.
"As part of Palau’s priority to ensure continued economic growth, this assistance will support the improvement of damaged infrastructure in order to restore and revitalize local tourism," a press release from the Office of the President said. "The pandemic left Palau financially strained, but through the generosity of one of our biggest partners, Taiwan, Palau is expecting a full-speed recovery ahead."
Last week, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) provided Palau $100,000 in immediate assistance to support people affected by Typhoon Surigae.
"This new funding will provide emergency shelter, relief supplies, water, sanitation and hygiene support for the most vulnerable people affected," the government said in a press release.
"USAID has a long-standing partnership with the Government of Palau to strengthen its disaster management and emergency response capabilities. USAID also supports a number of partner organizations that train communities in vulnerable areas to better prepare for recovery from natural disasters. Additionally, USAID programs have enhanced emergency shelter management and established early warning systems to help flood-prone communities."