Yap State News Brief: March 13, 2012
YSL Speaker Responds to Governor Over ETG Proposal
In response to Governor Anefal’s letter (www.yapstategov.org/News/03-2012/03-08-12.htm) to YSL dated February 28th, Speaker Henry Falan responded on behalf of the Legislature with the following statement:
Dear Governor Anefal:
Thank you for your letter of February 28, 2012 concerning the ETG proposed investment agreement for which a counter-offer, according to you, “has been transmitted to ETG for their consideration,” and also concerning the Yap State Resolution No. 8-29.
As you clearly pointed out in your letter, the Legislature did not forward any specific comments on the specifics of the unofficial copy of the proposed investment agreement which we received from your legal staff. Our reading of the unofficial copy, together with our unequivocal support for development, especially in the private sector, prompted the adoption of YSR 8-29 expressing the sense of the Legislature as a whole that a proposal of this magnitude requires the review and complete understanding of the State Leadership and the people of Yap. YSR 8-29 is merely requesting to “defer signing an investment agreement proposed by the ETG until such time when the people of the State of Yap have been fully informed about the proposal, and until the State Leadership has unanimously agreed that such proposal will be in the best interest and welfare of the people of the State of Yap.”
Since we learned of the proposed agreement during the January 19, 2012 State Leadership meeting, we took to heart with the understanding that a position will be taken on the proposal by consensus of the Leadership.
The proposed agreement specifies that “ETG has executed the Strategic Framework Agreement with the government of the State of Yap,..., to develop a unique world renowned top grade tourism project according to a Master Investment Plan to be developed,....” The Leadership needs to review and discuss the proposed agreement along with the strategic framework agreement which is already signed, before making any decision for the most appropriate next course of action to take, if any. It appears that the proposal may require the use of privately owned land in Yap over which the State Government may not have any authority to commit to ETG for the project. Because of the potential requirement for lands NOT owned by the government, we must be extremely cautious and not respond in any way to the proposed agreement until we have fully informed the people whose lands and communities may be directly affected.
The government news brief of January 18, 2012, stated that the Chairman of the Council of Pilung had signed the MOU with ETG on Thursday, January 12, 2012; this has cause concern amongst the people of Yap as more people have been calling the Legislature to register their concern about ETG, and to find out more about the project which some people claim will be implemented in their own communities. People want to know what ETG is planning to do in Yap. Obviously, the Legislature does not have any information except the proposed investment agreement.
Although most of the specifics of the ETG matter may still be unknown or unclear to some, the known specifics such as the signed documents agreement should be shared with the people of Yap.
The Legislature through the Chairman of the Committee on Government, Health and Welfare, has asked for a copy of the MOU and copies of any other signed documents including the signed Strategic Framework Agreement; and to date we have not received any copy of any of these signed documents. An unsigned copy of the MOU between the Chairman of the Council of Pilung and ETG was given to us by a staff of the Council. If the signed document is in fact the same as the unsigned document, then we as elected leaders should defer taking further action until the people understand the possible direct affect that ETG activities could have on their lives. As you know, the MOU includes statements such as:
“The Parties [ETG and Council of Pilung] acknowledge that the role of ETG as the full scale developer of the tourism resource of the State of Yap. The Council hereby supports ETG regarding the development of the Project to the largest extent. The Council further agrees to give to ETG their full assistance regarding the acquisition of land lease.” “The Parties agree that the Member of the Council shall witness, in a written form, the execution of the land lease instruments between ETG and the land owners with respect to the lease of land located within the community that said Member is associated with.” “The Parties agree that the Member of the Council shall coordinate and mediate should any dispute arises between ETG and respective local community.”
We all fully support economic development, and especially improvement and development of the private sector, but it must be done responsibly and in a sustainable manner. This would require transparency and informed decisions by all stakeholders and especially the people and communities whose lands will be required for the ETG project to become a reality.
In your letter you were asking if we have any questions regarding the “counter-offer,” and to work together moving forward. As much as I am grateful for working together moving forward, I also truly believe that the people of Yap must first be made aware of the things that their government is negotiating on their behalf. It is on behalf of the people of Yap that any moving forward will occur. The people of Yap are unequivocally sophisticated who need to be fully informed of government acts that are being contemplated to affect their lives. The people should be fully informed about what the State government may have agreed to and/or may be negotiating with ETG concerning the people’s lands and their communities. Hence, perhaps the “counter-offer” could be reconsidered and be referred to the State Leadership for assessment and appropriate next course of action.