KOROR Palau — Senate President Surangel S. Whipps of the Seventh Olbiil Era Kelulau issued to the Senate a Declaration of Legislative Agenda on March 10.

The agenda includes issues relevant to economic development and business that Whipps would like to be given priority in the coming four years.

Whipps shared his agenda with the Journal and responded to a question about the need for foreign investment in Palau. He told the Journal “We welcome investment in Palau for things that Palauans cannot do. We have to be concerned how we develop Palau. . . and for whom.”

The proposed legislative agenda addresses the need to assess past and present management of available local revenues and Compact of Free Association funds and to prepare for loss of revenue when the Compact with the United States expires in 2007. It acknowledges the need to work with the Financial Institutions Commission to strengthen the banking system. “We dare not ” Whipps said “allow the Republic’s banks to suffer a loss of their ‘correspondent relationships’ with the United States banking system.”

The agenda called for the promotion of private sector economic development — that may require evaluation and possible amendments to existing laws — as a means to increase local tax revenues.

Whipps said he encourages “sustainable environmentally friendly private sector economic growth in industries such as eco-tourism Internet and software development information technology corporate registration banking and finance.” He said he encourages the promotion of incentives for “individuals and companies involved in Internet and software development ” and “reduction in the price of high-speed Internet access.”

In the agenda Whipps considered the need to amend laws to “make the Republic attractive for registration of foreign corporations.” He acknowledged the high communication costs that impede Palau’s position as a corporate registration banking and financial hub and recognized that in order to bring international and regional corporations to Palau means must be found to “bring down our communication costs and increase our Internet speeds.”

Whipps called for continued promotion of tourism — Palau’s primary industry. He said high airline transportation costs hinder the industry.

Whipps’ agenda called upon the Senate to “work together with the executive branch” to find ways to reduce airline and communication costs.”

The Declaration of Legislative Agenda was circulated to the senators. It required their consideration and passage by Senate resolution.

Together with Whipps the Senate leadership includes Yukiwo P. Dengokl vice president; and Alan R. Seid floor leader. Whipps approved the Senate Committee organization on Jan. 11.

Committee chairmen are Santy S. Asanuma Ways and Means and Financial Matters; Yukiwo P. Dengokl Judiciary and Governmental Affairs; Alan R. Seid Foreign Affairs and State Relations; Joshua Koshiba Tourism Development and Cultural Affairs; Alfonso N. Diaz Resources Commerce Trade and Development; Johnny Reklai Capital Improvement Projects; Caleb Otto Health and Education; and Mlib Tmetuchl Youth Affairs and Social Welfare. MBJ