Kekech Er Kau (baby spanking)

By Santy Asanuma —-

published 7/31/2003

Alii Dr. K,

Senator Dengokl’s article “Taking A Step Forward” and your response to it has prompted me to take up my Constitution once again. It is apparent that most sensible people know that we Palauans have been less than sincere in handling our own affairs and sovereignty from the start. Of course, this is natural behavior because most of us still think that we can always move in to live with Uncle Sam if things go wrong. A very good example of this attitude is the Compact. There is a provision in the Compact providing arbitration (“techall e a mondai morenges ra delongelir ra teru el kautekoi”) for Palau and US. While US require that our Compact investment money can only be invested with American firms in the US, it does not guarantee the minimum interest rate of 12% like what Senator Dengokl pointed out. Since interest rate is like the weather, no business guru (“semong”) can tell you that interest rate is going to remain the same in one whole year. Remember the Compact investment money should be earning at least 12% for us to have enough money to run our government for 50 years. This was a raw deal (“ngoius ra misong”) as Americans say and needs to be brought up by our leaders to arbitration. And they should not wait until Palau hits rock bottom.

I know most people do not easily understand percentage and interest rates and do not even bother. So just know that, when interest rate is below 12% at the local banks, Palau’s financial future is underwater. Interest rate is not the only problem. One dollar in your hand, whether interest rate is 12% or 5%, is still one dollar to be spent. So the question is what need you are going to spend your one dollar on. This basic money rule applies to one person and should be the same when dealing with a whole country like Palau. I saw you on TV the other day and found out that it is budget time again. As always with OEK hearings, it was good fanfare (“kora omosiroi e ungil sibai”).

Allow me to criticize the process in the hearing. Budget is an administrative concept and should deal purely on the effectiveness of the amounts of money given to the needs of the hospital or other departments of the government. I see that OEK lawmakers found it necessary to learn details of diabetes and some technical nature of medical profession during your hearing, which you gladly explained. Not that I am against this but they should do it before budget hearings. This should be commendable for lawmakers to do so for all departments of government but not during budget hearings. This week they are doing the same with education and so on to the other departments. And still books are not enough every year for the last twenty years. So it is either people going to OEK hearings do not know their numbers or these budget hearings are not working properly. And you can bet all your Tylenols on it that shortly after this budget is passed, they are going to ask for supplemental budget like every year. It is the same story and same problems for the last twenty years. By the way, be careful with our water source at Ngerikiil because it is still not potable.

So I have picked up my Constitution to see who is supposed to do what because finger pointing (“ke di ketutk”) has to stop. Two of the eight powers and duties of the President in Article 8; section 7; subsection 6 states that: President is authorized to “spend money pursuant to appropriations” only by OEK. Subsection 8: authorizes the President “to propose an annual budget” which cannot be in effect unless passed by OEK. In Article 9 Section 5, OEK have 21 powers over the President. Basically, the control of all Palau affairs and its money (“rokui el tekingel ma ududel Belau”) are ultimately decided in OEK.

So I have a problem when all of a sudden 25 OEK members start blaming the financial shortcomings of this country to the Office of the President then and now. By the way, it is OEK that is suppose to look for new money for Palau according to our Constitution. Not the President. The Constitutional Framers were wise not to put the fate of Palau in the hands of one person but in the hands of many in OEK. So I hope OEK can start to seriously work on the numbers in our annual budget before they hit the big zero and not know what to do with it.

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