President Panuelo Solicits President Biden’s Assistance for Eligibility for Federal Highway Funding to Support the FSM’s Pave the Nation Program

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President Panuelo Solicits President Biden’s Assistance for Eligibility for Federal Highway Funding to Support the FSM’s Pave the Nation Program

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On June 15th, 2021, His Excellency David W. Panuelo—President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)—solicited support from U.S. President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. to assist in the Nation’s Pave the Nation program for Climate Resilient Roads. The President proposed that the Territorial and Puerto Rico Highway Program, a U.S. Government program which assists U.S. territories in the construction and improvement of arterial and collector highways, and necessary inter-island connectors, could be expanded to the FSM, the Republic of Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and that increased funding for the program at large would be beneficial to both Micronesian and U.S. interests in the region.

 

President Panuelo described how the Pave the Nation program of Climate Resilient Roads is one of the Panuelo-George administration’s keystone priorities. “The practical reality is that the roads across the [FSM] are often poor at best, and absent at worst; the practical effect, then, is that I have solicited support from other development partners to assist us in our endeavor to establish climate-resilient roads for our Pave the Nation project.”

 

“Mr. President,” President Panuelo continued, “we have been blessed to have recently received $40,000,000 from the World Bank for the purpose of our climate-resilient roads initiative. We have also solicited support from the People’s Republic of China (China), and recently signed a technical and economic cooperation agreement for approximately $16,000,000 in assistance, the bulk of which I would intend to augment our Pave the Nation project. Further, as I discussed with Prime Minister Morrison [of Australia] and confirmed in a recent a meeting with [the] Ambassador of Australia [to the FSM], I have learned that the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP) may be able to augment this project, too. Certainly, we put our own meager national resources into developing our roads as well, but too often we find that our funding means little when we’re constantly facing typhoons, heavy rains, and other Climate Change-related scenarios that dilapidate our road infrastructure. Taken in isolation, the numerical value in the assistance I describe here is large compared to no assistance at all—but it is not nearly enough to fully implement our Pave the Nation program.”

 

President Panuelo wrote that it is in the interest of the FSM that the United States of America—the Nation’s first and foremost ally—be the “visible reflection of our Nation’s infrastructure development.”

 

“Thus, Mr. President, I would like to propose to you an idea for your consideration. You will recall that …the Territorial and Puerto Rico Highway Program…‘assist[s] each government of a territory in the construction and improvement of a system of arterial and collector highways, and necessary inter-island connectors.’ Funds are used for the construction of highways, bridges, boats, terminal facilities, preventative maintenance, engineering and economic surveys, and more. We understand that approximately $145,000,000 are scheduled per annum for the U.S. Territories and Puerto Rico under this program. Taking action to increase appropriations for the Territorial and Puerto Rico Highway Program, and to expand this program to the Freely Associated States…would go a long way towards improving U.S. visibility in our Nation’s development and implementation of crucial infrastructure projects, and ensure the Pave the Nation program’s success.”

 

“I appreciate your attention and concern to this issue, Mr. President,” President Panuelo concluded. “Rest assured that the People and Government of the [FSM] look forward to deepening our Enduring Partnership over the years and decades to come, and that we look forward to Building Back Better through our construction of climate-resilient roads.”

 

As part of the Panuelo-George administration’s efforts to initiate dialogue on this issue, President Panuelo has also sent his letter to President Biden to the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Majority and Minority Leaders of the U.S. Senate, for the information of all Members of the U.S. Congress.

 

Citizens, residents, and stakeholders may find President Panuelo’s letter to President Biden here: https://gov.fm/files/June_15_letter_to_President_USA.pdf


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