FSM Information Services
$567,074 Paid So Far Through the FSM Economic Stimulus Package in Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, & Kosrae; More Benefits to Come
PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On May 13th, 2020, a ceremony was held to celebrate the first disbursements of financial assistance through the Economic Stimulus Package. Although presently focused on the tourism sector through the Tourism Sector Mitigation Fund via Public-Law 21-104, and implemented through Emergency Regulations issued by His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) on May 4th, the Executive and Legislative Branches of the FSM National Government are working to expand assistance to other sectors in the Nation’s economy.
As of May 13th, 2020, approximately $567,074 have been disbursed to 55 businesses throughout the Nation. Recipients of this funding include 11 businesses in Yap, 18 businesses in Chuuk, 20 businesses in Pohnpei, and 6 businesses in Kosrae.
Nearly one hundred additional businesses are currently being assessed for financial assistance.
At the same time that checks were being disbursed in Palikir, the field offices of the Department of Finance & Administration were disbursing payments in the FSM States of Yap, Chuuk, and Kosrae.
“The total number of affected tourism sector businesses in the FSM is approximately 184,” President Panuelo said in his remarks to Pohnpei’s tourism sector representatives. “You will be receiving 75% of the salaries and wages you paid in the March quarter, and if you continue to submit your [information] on a monthly basis, you’ll continue to receive monthly reimbursements for wages and salaries. Our focus for the Economic Stimulus Package is to keep businesses open and our citizens employed.”
The FSM Economic Stimulus Package is locally funded through Public Laws 21-94 and 21-104, in addition to funding from the Project Development Fund under the National Oceanic Marine Resource Authority (NORMA) and a grant from the Asian Development Bank. The formula used to calculate the economic relief is based on an amount equal to 75% of wages and salaries, plus an amount equal to 100% of Social Security and Gross Revenue Tax paid. In addition to these benefits, the Government is also assisting businesses with the monthly interest component of loan payments.
The Nation’s tourism sector’s turnover revenues in 2019 were approximately $43,300,000, and the sector employs 1,048 people i.e. approximately 6.7% of the FSM’s total labor force, which represented approximately $5,720,000 in wages and salaries in Fiscal Year 2019. The FSM National Government has determined that approximately 500 individuals in the tourism sector have lost their jobs or had their hours reduced as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic., and will qualify for unemployment assistance.
The FSM’s tourism sector’s Gross Revenue Tax returns for the Fiscal Year 2019 (i.e. October 1st, 2018 to September 30th, 2019) were approximately $1,100,000. The March 2020 quarter represents a 30% downturn from the March 2019 quarter. January 2020 was a particularly successful month for the Nation’s tourism sector, and the FSM National Government predicts that the next quarter will demonstrate a far higher downturn.
“In a week or two,” President Panuelo said, “We’ll be announcing the details of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program through our newly established Office of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. We have requested a grant of approximately $40,500,000 of funding from the United States to assist those who have lost their unemployment [or suffered reduced hours] due to the effects of COVID-19. Individuals will be able to fill out an application and we’ll begin processing as a separate means of support, with eligible individuals receiving a minimum payment of $166 per week, backdated from January 27th all the way up to December 31st, 2020.”
“I thank the 21st FSM Congress and Vice President George for making this a joint effort by our National Government to work and give back to our Nation’s private sector,” President Panuelo continued. “I thank all of you in the private sector for carrying on the very important role you play in our Nation-building process. I want to emphasize to you all that you are valued, and that we will do our best to support you during these unprecedented times.”