US team in Palau to set stage for Compact review
Koror- A US Compact consultation team is in Palau this week for a “fact-finding” mission that will set the stage for a formal compact review to take place.
Vice President Raynold Oilouch told the media on Wednesday that the offer to start Compact talks early is based on the requirement that every 15 years a Compact review is to take place between the United States and Palau.
“For us, we wanted some clarity. Is the discussion about the Compact extension beyond 2044 or is about 2024, when the 15-year compact review is called for,” VP Oilouch said.
“What was made clear is that the discussion is based on the compact review which is required under the compact, VP Oilouch said.
Oilouch said Palau wanted clarity on the statement made by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when he announced in his visit to Pohnpei in July that the US wants an early start to the compact review with the three freely associated states.
The US team was here in Palau, Oct. 8 and 9.
“The vice president said that the visiting consulting mission was authorized by the US government on a fact-finding mission to gather information from the Palau-side - what issues and proposals Palau wants to bring up in Compact discussions.
The US consulting team needs the fact-finding mission to prepare a report, which will form the basis for the next authorization calling for a formal Compact review to commence.
No timetable has been set when the review will start. Oilouch said The US is still conducting information gathering and requested various information.
However, Palau requested an official letter from the US detailing what information they would like Palau to provide.
According to VP Oilouch, the US wanted an early start to the Compact review to avoid repeating the same experience with the Compact Review Agreement signed in 2010 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The 2010 review languished in the US Congress until it finally passed and signed into law only last year - almost nine years after being signed.
VP Oilouch further disclosed that Palau will be requesting additional financial assistance after the current financial provision expires in 2024.
“Minister Sadang listed down some of the additional economic assistance after 2024 that Palau would like to take up. These are continuing assistance for the COFA trust fund - to allow for inflation adjustments; to establish Fiscal Stabilization Fund; and Infrastructure Fund, among many other issues,” Oilouch said.
“If we can finish the Compact review early, that would be best. But if it will require delay then we can accommodate or work with the delay,” VP Oilouch further said.