President Christopher J. Loeak called last week for national unity in the Republic of the Marshall Islands - the need to forge strong partnerships and working together to find solutions to the pressing issues facing the country. Addressing the nation during the Nitijela (Parliament) 34th Constitutional 2nd session’s opening ceremony, the President said that the global financial crisis has affected investments and economic development. These have been exacerbated by the recent natural disasters. The Government, however, continues to provide its mandated services to the people of the Republic.
The Office of the President provided summary statements from the address originally delivered in Marshallese in Majuro’s Nitijela Chambers and broadcast island-wide on August 6.
The Republic of the Marshall Islands continues to face the harsh impacts of climate change and other natural disasters. President Loeak noted the recent drought in the northern atolls and the inundation on Majuro and the southern part of the country.
“Climate change impacts on every facet of our development, be it food, fisheries, heath, energy, water, land, and our fragile ecosystems. It threatens our survival.”
President Loeak reported on notable achievements in shipping and aviation. These include:
1) The commissioning of M/V Tobolar, which began services to the outer islands and will greatly improve the ability of producers to transport copra and get greater returns;
2) Japan’s contribution of two new ships this coming December;
3) The return of the Dash 8 which vastly enhances air transportation to the outer islands; and,
4) The direct flights of Our Airline, opening new avenues for trade, particularly in the South Pacific.
“Investment in education is an investment in our people and future,” said the President, underscoring the continued importance of education as one of the key Government priorities.
Support for the College of the Marshall Islands and the University of the South Pacific will continue, although the Government would like their programs and courses to better reflect national needs for human resource development.
Health was also identified as a pressing priority, particularly in relation to non-communicable diseases, or NCDs, and other infectious diseases. These diseases would be exacerbated by climate change. The President outlined the on-going work by the Ministry of Health on developing and implementing a Strategic NCD Plan. He acknowledged the assistance under the Pacific Partnerships and the important roles played by teams, such as, the Flying Doctors, Canvasback mission, and the Taiwan mobile mission which have fielded medical visits to Majuro, Ebeye/Kwajalein, and the outer islands.
President Loeak praised the Government’s efforts to increase efficiency and transparency in its financial processes. The audit report for the financial year 2012 demonstrated a huge reduction in doubtful costs compared to those in previous years. He urged the relevant arms of Government to continue to observe greater financial prudence in order to reduce expenditure and enhance efficiency. Greater financial management is needed, especially the gradual decrease in the level of Compact funding.
Noting the up-coming 44th Pacific Islands Forum hosted by the RMI next month, the President reiterated the need to offer the best in terms of our “Marshallese hospitality” and encouraged rallying behind the Government to ensure a successful event.
- Yokwe Online, August 13, 2013