Departure Fees

The following opinion piece was published as “Guest View” in the August 15 issue of Tia Belau by Sandra S. Pierantozzi – –

There is truth to what the Vice President has stated that “funding state block grants—which are recurring budgetary items—from one-time funding sources is not good fiscal management policy.”  That is indeed sound fiscal management policy.  However, to use the environmental protection departure fee to fund the state block grants, even though that is a continuous source of revenues, is not proper.  In fact, to do so is deceitful because Palau is telling all visitors to Palau that the environmental protection departure fee is exactly for that—environmental protection.

The environmental protection departure fee should be used for protection of the environment, for such projects as water and sewer treatments, road maintenance to prevent runoffs to the sea, etc. that would help to keep our environment clean and healthy.  On the other hand, state block grants should be funded with tax revenues—tax payers pay taxes for the purpose of operations of their government and for needed public services including improved public health and medical care.

It comes as another surprise that the OEK should increase its budget by $100,000 when already they are receiving high levels of pay for the work they do while the constituencies are struggling with the high costs of living plaguing them every day.  Scenes of protests and demonstration can be watched every day through the television where the masses are protesting the high costs of living all over.  We pray that our leaders will help us to avoid such destructive demonstrations with good preventive measures.

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2 Comments to “Departure Fees”

  1. I am little confused here. Majority, if not all, of the tourist that comes to Palau are divers who will dive at Koror State’s, Peliliu’s and sometimes Ngeremlengui’s diving spots so these departure fees should be given/ allocated/budgeted (for lack of better word) to these three states. Why should states like Kayangel, Sonsorol, Tobi, Angaur, et.al., whose waters and environments are not affected by these tourists be beneficiary of the tourist departure fees?

    Block grants- why should a states like Tobi, Sonsorol, Kayangel recieved more Block Grants per person than Koror state?

    Just thinking about these make my blood pressure soooooooo freaking HIGH….

  2. Alii,
    I must add the following states for dive sites that are visited normally (daily) by divers:

    1. Ngarchelong (there is a Japanese Dive company currently operating out of Oketol dock that brings divers to the Ngarchelong sites which happen to be part of the PAN i.e. Ebiil Reef).
    2. Ngardmau – I’ve seen Sam’s Tours bring divers out there – I believe there is a Manta Ray cleaning station at one of the reef sites out there but I have yet to dive it.
    3. Kayangel – dive tours brings out tourists to the uninhabited islands for extended stays and they do visit the islands on a daily basis for tours. Kayangel’s Ngeruangel Reef/Island is also being poached on a regular basis but they have insufficient funds to patrol that protected area that was set up more than 6 years ago (I believe it was actually 2003) and to prevent the illegal harvesting of turtles, fishes, clams, etc.)

    The departure fees are not solely for diving but for preservation of nature for other activities. Sonsorol, Tobi, Angaur, and Kayangel (Ngeruangel) have bird sanctuaries too that need funds to maintain the pristine habitats. Furthermore, the departure fees funneled through the PAN sites serves to strengthen not only reef monitoring but also terrestrial monitoring that in turn prevents run-offs and sedimentation and pollution from going into the ocean and onto the reefs.

    Just some facts so Mr. Uchelmis doesn’t get too frustrated with this. Palau is one nation with sixteen villages. Seems like a lot of problems come from the appropriation of money instead of the protection of our lands and seas.

    I hope this information is helpful.

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