WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, Doug Domenech today applauded successes highlighted at the mid-year meetings of the Joint Economic Management Committee (JEMCO) held on March 19, 2019, in Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). The JEMCO members and U.S. and FSM government officials were apprised, in particular, on efforts being made in the FSM to systematize and institutionalize professional planning and management of public infrastructure projects.
With support and technical assistance provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the FSM Government has now established and fully staffed three out of five program management offices in the FSM, and continues to lay the foundation for the professional management and use of public infrastructure funding and building projects throughout the FSM. More than $200 million is available under the Compact of Free Association (Compact) to build and renovate schools, hospitals, utilities, and other public infrastructure across the FSM.
While in Chuuk, U.S. officials visited the Chuuk Public Utility Corporation (CPUC) power plant on Weno with Chief Executive Officer Kasio Mida, Jr., and other key staff, where they saw new generators, equipment, and renovated infrastructure that was supported through more than $10 million in Compact public infrastructure grants. In 2016, CPUC also successfully refurbished its wastewater treatment plant with funding support through the Compact.
“I understand that JEMCO Chair Nik Pula and the other members were impressed by their visit to the Weno power plant, a once-failing utility that is now a model in the Pacific region,” said Assistant Secretary Domenech. “I applaud this effective use of Compact public sector infrastructure grant funding that ultimately benefits the people of Chuuk and the FSM.”
“The power plant in Weno has gone from being one of the most challenged in the Pacific with rolling blackouts every day, to now providing consistent power 24/7,” said CEO Mida. “With the combined support of political leadership, professional management, and financial assistance under the Compact, we have turned this utility around. We continue to work with the U.S. and other partners such as the Asian Development Bank to develop our utility services, and explore alternative energy sources, not only on Weno but in other populated islands in Chuuk State.”
The U.S. team also visited the Chuuk State Hospital with Chuuk Public Health Director Julio Mariur and Dr. Dorina Fred. Discussions are underway to propose construction of a new hospital in Weno estimated to cost approximately $50 million. Built during the Trust Territory era, prior to the implementation of the Compact of Free Association in 1986, the hospital is in great disrepair. The hospital did benefit from renovations provided in 2008 by Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133, through a Department of Defense Pacific Partnership program. Originally built with a 120-bed capacity, it is the only in-patient facility in the State of Chuuk, serving over half of the FSM population, nearly 50,000, spread out over dozens of islands inside and beyond the Chuuk Lagoon.
The Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, and the Office of Insular Affairs carry out the Secretary of the Interior’s responsibilities for the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Additionally, OIA administers and oversees Federal assistance under the Compacts of Free Association to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.