By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Several infrastructure projects in the Federated States of Micronesia remain on hold due to a shortage of skilled labor in the country, prompting FSM President David Panuelo to seek the lifting of the Philippine government’s ban on deployment of workers to the Pacific nation.
“Both the FSM Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Justice are presently reaching out to the Philippine government with a view toward resumption of discussion and conclusion of a labor agreement that will normalize the deployment of Filipino workers to FSM,” the Office of the President said in a statement following an exit meeting with Yap leaders.
The Philippines was the main source of construction manpower for the FSM. However, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration imposed a ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to FSM in August 2018 due to mounting complaints about labor abuse by local employers in Chuuk and Pohnpei.
Prior to the ban, there were 2,000 Filipino workers in the FSM. The Philippine consulate on Guam stopped issuing certification for FSM-bound Filipino workers beginning April 2018.
During Panuelo’s recently concluded visit to Yap, the state’s governor, Jesse Salalu, sought the president's assistance in addressing the labor situation.
The FSM has dozens of major projects under the government’s Pave the Nation initiative that involves the rehabilitation of public roads and bridges in four states.
During his meeting with Yap leaders, Panuelo reported that the FSM has secured $75 million from World Bank and $12 million from Asian Development Bank to fund the government’s centerpiece program.
Yap has six infrastructure projects worth more than $80 million. One of the largest projects is the $37 million airport runway rehabilitation, which is funded by the Federal Aviation Authority.
Correction: We earlier mistakenly identified Yap Gov. Jesse Salalu as Alexander Salalu. Our sincere apologies.