Grants for employee benefits, Marshall Islands health care and assistance to tax administrators
WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 10, 2017) – Acting Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Insular Areas Nikolao Pula has approved three technical assistance grants totaling over $1.7 million.
“These funds demonstrate, in part, our support for commitments and important programs which continue to benefit people in the U.S. territories and the freely associated states (FAS),” said Pula. “We continue to work closely with the governors of the U.S. territories and the presidents of the FAS to make sure that U.S. taxpayer dollars are used correctly and in the Nation’s best interests.”
Prior Service Trust Fund Administration (PSTFA)
The first technical assistance grant was to PSTFA in the amount of $865,800. This grant continues funding employee benefits under the terms of the Prior Service Trust Fund, a responsibility assumed by the Federal Government following the dissolution of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI). . The program allows the three FAS governments and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands pay the benefits to former TTPI employees plus cover PSTFA expenses.
Bikini, Enewetak, Rongelap and Utrik Atoll Health Care Program
Funded at $697,387, the second technical assistance grant provides continuing health care to the peoples of the four Marshall Islands atolls. Through this program, the Office of Insular Affairs offers the services of full-time, primary-care physicians and nurses to approximately 3000 atoll residents who still bear the consequences of the nuclear weapons tests conducted in these islands from 1946 to 1958.
All-Island Tax Administrators Association (AITAA)
The third technical assistance grant is for $139,500 to AITAA for its 2017 and 2018 conferences. Consisting of the four U.S. territories (American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands) and two of the three FAS (the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Palau), the AITAA gives territorial and FAS tax agencies a voice to address concerns or promote tax laws to the Departments of the Interior, the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service. The 2017 conference will take place this June in Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Secretary of the Interior is responsible for coordinating Federal policy with respect to the territories of the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and administering and overseeing Federal assistance provided under the Compacts of Free Association to the freely associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau. The Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Insular Areas and the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) executes these responsibilities. OIA’s mission is to foster economic opportunities, to promote government efficiency and to improve the quality of life for the people of the insular areas.