PNI State Employee Layoffs

edited October 2006 in General
A tormenting moment of silence and emotions filled the room as Principle Judge Yamaguchi of the Division of the Court of Land, Pohnpei State Government like several other equally subjected divisions and agencies of the State Government explained to their employees that they are no longer on the payroll. A reality that now haunts many employees subject to the recent JEMCO cut of the Private Sector Development, Environment and etc. grants for the FY 2007 budget.

The Court of Land Tenure remains a crucial area of the Government as it is tasked with the settlements of land right issues, title searches, archived of historical land titles, mortgage of properties and a whole array of other functions generally aimed at maintaining order in land matters. Other divisions also not funded in 2007 and may be closing doors are, the divisions of Marine Resources and Conservation, Department of Economic Affairs, Small Business Guaranty and Finance Corporation, to name a few. That is if, the State does not find quickly, solutions to keep these areas funded soon.

Of course these employees have children in schools, colleges and housing loans, credit cards to pay. They are also bound to loose their health and life insurances opportunities, and the simple opportunities that they have worked their longlife years to build and has become a necessity for their small families. Many lives have changed over-night as a consequence of the recent cut by JEMCO in those respective sectors. What has your Government have to say to all this consequences?


  • Mr. Prince,

    Thanks for the informative piece. I begin to sense a tidal wave heading the shorelines of the other three States: Chuuk, Yap, and Kosrae. Since Pohnpei has already taken the hit, pretty soon the others will follow suit as a result of application of the rules and regulations as promulgated and imposed by the almighty JEMCO in its subtle dealings!

    You are so right that this is a nasty and tormenting time and experience for our people, especially for those poor State government employees and their families to go through! Such untimely negative occurrences will not only pose a significant impact on those affected financially but rather their social life-style, health, and the economy to a certain extent.

    Due to such lay-off of some of the employees, the families will have to accept some changes in those areas to be able to confront both the unexpected and expected emerging challenges they have to deal with directly. These families have to go out of their usually normal routine to actively find jobs to supplement for the lost salaries and wages and the government-afforded health and life insurances for family members. Since these lay-off government employees are the principle providers to the families, there will be a tremendous change also in the families’ daily chores and activities. For instance, those who spend time tending to farm the land should now be obligated to alter work assignment to either a bi-weekly or semi-monthly source of income occupation. As a result, there will be some breakdowns in prioritizing the kinds of task to be undertaken on a daily basis as oppose to what they used to do.

    Furthermore, there will certainly be other adverse impacts on these people health as to the cause of this unexpected streamlining of employees. These lay-off employees will definitely no longer able to afford to pay for their insurance premium and then ultimately lose that benefit. Loosing such only affordable medical health services will severely affect the health of these families. Additionally, it will have a financial burden to the State if referral is urgently necessary because in many cases insured government employees and their immediate families’ members have their government-provided health insurance that saves the government from paying for medical expenses incurred for patients. This also will have a potential affect on the medical obligation of the government to the unfortunate families who cannot afford to have health insurances. The government will have to absorb more medical expenses after the effect of such unfortunate circumstance that is indeed beyond its control as lawfully imposed by JEMCO.

    Because many of these employees also play a vital role in contributing to the island economy, there is no doubt that the economy should also feel the consequential impact of the action. Thousand of accumulated taxes from these laid-off employees will be a huge lost in local revenues, which requires the government to look for other source of revenue generating effort to fill such gap. Not only that but the Social Security benefit recipients will feel the shock that this unfortunate action can deliver to the system. As we know that social security beneficiaries receive their benefits from payments made to the trust fund, if I may be correct, from both employers and employees share of the social security taxes deducted twice a month from their salaries. Thus, loosing even some employees, who pay regularly to the fund, will possess a significant decrease in the overall collection of said taxes and could somehow play a reduction of the amount of benefit for each recipient in the aftermath. All these can have a tremendous effect on the overall success of the economy, which is the ultimate key to our future progress in general.

    In our Micronesian society, when the prime provider for the family loses his paid job, every member of the family and even the relatives also share the same negative results it brings about. Obviously, it usually results in a mental state of stress that can have a severe impact on everybody’s life. The scary fact about such stressful consequence, it is very difficult to heal or mend because it requires psychological curing, which we in fact lack the expertise and professionalism in our country. The bottom line is this is a silent killer and a major contributing factor in most illness in the world!

    Since the finale of the re-negotiation of the Compact, I was expecting the worst instead of the better as the final copy of the Compact II was disseminated. Now, we are beginning to experience the factual worst as they slowly but surely creeping on us, bringing to us a chaotic state of mind, and affecting our lives in many patterns! Who is going to be blamed for such drastically worse scenario? Are we going to blame JEMCO for all these unfortunates?

    To be able to answer these questions or other questions relating to FSM problems, it would be wise for Mr. President Urusemal and Speaker Christian to explain to the citizens of the nation what the heck they’re thinking as they enjoy their luxurious living in their newly built residences at Palikir while the people are nervously experiencing daily emerging problems at their backyards! The people do need immediate solutions to alleviate and remedy these problems, which are the fruits of their absolute irresponsibility, negligence and unprofessionalism!
  • These earlier postings have clearly depicted or portrayed the grave situations now faced by the employees who are being laid off from their jobs. The ripple effects are bound to spread rapidly throughout the nation, and one could only imagine the dire consequences on families' daily lives: a choatic and paranoid state of affairs we reaped after voting in inexperienced policy makers without visions. We were warned during the first compact and even during the early retirement program to trim our cost and shift to developing the private sectors to stimulate the economy. We didnt play attention to Uncle Sam and even to some of our major donors. We were urged during the first, secondth and third economic summits to hasten the stimulation of the private sectors to start earnings and reduce dependencies on hand-outs economy. Again, we didnt heed the advices of the experts...and our leaders rarely look into ways to expand our tax base and nor attempt to shift from a sale-type businesses to production type.

    Now the prize we paid is hugely devastating especially on those who are affected. Rather than making decisions back then, we reluctantly ignored the advices of the donors and even the ADB in 1994 and the IMF in the mid-90s. When we were told to trim the public sector expenses, we should have asked "how", but not "yes, yes" and let the next administration do the job. The JEMCO didn't cut the budget, but rather shifted the budget amount to reflect the priority placed on education and health: two areas which were severely ignored during the Compact I, and thus led to US to placed the priorities on those two sectors in this Compact II. FSM ignored this basic requirements and thus underbudgetted these sectors by over 3 millions. JEMCO had no choice but to take the money away from where it shouldn't be to where it should be and then urged the FSM governments to adjust the budget with whatever remaining in the pie. Clearly in the Compact II, many of our legislatures and even Congress shifted many of the activities usually paid by local revenues unto the Compact Sectors. We, despite advisement of the donor, tried to use the Compact sectors for operation cost of our governments: a cost so high due to our negligence of advices from the experts including our donor country. JEMCO had no choice but to force us to comform by merely shifting the funds back to the priority areas: education and health. I think its about time we realize that Uncle Sam isn't fooling around with us nor is he going to tolerate our misgivings due to our own negligences. There are many other advisement and even compact requirements we need to adhere to or comply with...but we still pretend we didnt know or heard it. Or is it because we have inexperienced people in high position that simply do not know what to do now? I tend to believe the latter more so. Its about time the government put the right people in the right positions who knows what to do.
    Finally, we know that the amount we needed to offset this shortage of funds is far less than what the national government earned from the 200EEZ miles access fees, therefore its time we approach the Congress to bail out the states in their state of turmoil and fast two...because voters are ready to have heartattacks and strokes from stress. Someone says theres going to be a special session next month. If that is so...shouldnt the state governments be preparing adjusted budgets to appeal to the congress, before the 12million spend in pork barrel appropriations? I think good luck to everyone and may God bless you.
  • I am sorry to hear this from Pohnpie. Particuarly when it involves such agiencies that deal with Marine Environment. Though I have a few questions. Fact that they are not being covered by Compact 2, isnt there any local revenue money? What about using grant money(granted its not reliable). Also what about switching to more part time staff, particuarly for the jobs, that dont require full time people anyway. Long run, everyone should know that such changes will be happening. It was mistake from trust territory days to make people think that government is there to provide jobs not so much services that the public need. I am not sure how well things are in Pohnpie, but here in Chuuk, to many of the departments is overstaffed. I know people who only come in to get their paychecks. Clearly these people shouldnt be paid in the first part. On other other hand there are people who do work hard, they shouldnt be given the bad rap. In the long run, hopefully these will lead to better improved things. Though with such changes happening, it would be nice is there could be programs say through Small Business Development Center to encourage more of these laid off workers, to start up stores, or get some new training. In the long run, there are three alternatives for such laid off people, go back to their land. They might though be poor but at least they have food. The other option is for them to start up a store, or find some private sector job. Last option, though the hardest might be to move to the USA.

    I can say here in Chuuk, I doubt that such will happen yet. Here in Chuuk laying off people is a bad/naughty word. It seems were Compact 2 isnt funding, it will instead be funded through local revenue. This though doesnt have huge amounts of funds, and not always reliable. Any person laid off, will be simply because there is no funds to pay them. By the way presently C&I, Agriculture, and Marine Resources in Chuuk have all put in their budgets to JEMCO. If approved they will get some funding, if not approved or fully approved, then they will have to rely on local revenue.

    One last thing, I read in books and magazines that many people didnt think that there be a Compact 2. Be happy that there is money still given. It just know has to be wisely used, otherwise more will suffer
  • The real culprit in these matters that brought all these problems are the current leaders in our government, Speaker Christian who was the chairman of the JCN representing the FSM in the recently concluded Compact II negotiations, and of course those that took their sweet time to enjoy the abuse and misuse of Compact I funds. Now that US tax payers have had enough of our corrupt dealings it is now hurting us badly.

    Can someone please ask the speaker and president to resolve this matter before it gets out of hand??
  • Guys,

    I couldn't have agreed more. Here's the latest in Pohnpei. Pohnpei State Legislature passed usage of approximately 2 to 3 million from local revenue to shoulder these subjected divisions and agencies of the state government for FY2007. A temporary solution i must add. The question is can we replenish the withdrawal in due time to have similar amounts available for 2008? 2009? 2010 and onwards? As Utero Xm rightly explained the funds were shifted but not cut-off. However, this shift of funding from its originality is not temporary but a permanent one. The Private Sector Development and Environment Sector Grant is gone for good.

    My other question is, isn't it too premature to utilize local revenue? Was there thorough analysis performed to acknowledge future shortfalls of ALL other departments and activities of the States when Compact II comes to an end? I don't see the recent employee lay-offs and downsizing of government as a negative solution in our government's quest to make ends meet. It is about time we do so. To continue to maintain operations of a large government portfolio and knowing that funds are scarce is not curing the problem but rather alleviates more future financial problems. It is unfortunate that certain crucial divisions and agencies of the government like the Land Tenure Office and etc. have fallen victims to these shortfalls, rather than other areas of less importance and necessity that government can afford to let go by choice and that would not have significant negative impact to current government operations.

    It has been determined that the Trust Fund will not suffice funding of the current size of our respective Municipals, States and National Governments when Compact II ends and we begin the proper drawdowns of this reserved Trust Fund. Reliance is heavy on local revenue to match it. This whole concept is interesting. Interesting in that, it is not so much a difficult task to reorganize our governments and provide the next course of direction into paths more enriching and promising to upkeep a sound and viable future. Beleive me it's not difficult. I find spelling Russian grammar a more difficult task. In my view, the difficulties to acheiving prosperity and reversal of our current situation rests immensely in three words: IGNORANCE, UNQUALIFIED and simple STUBBORNESS.

    Pardon me, but what other conclusion can one resort to when evidently our government is well versed with what went wrong that constitutes our present dillema and yet, corrective measures to reorganize our government to favorable levels does not seem to be what is being sought for today. Rather, more bustling to find funds hidden in local revenue and alike is the favorable approach by our leaders. We just don't get it do we? Perhaps, the shifting of the funds by JEMCO is a simple clue telling us to re-study our foundations and to place priorities in front of the WANTS. Maybe, just maybe, a miracle awaits its entrance onto the political ring to TKO our problems. Place your bet.
  • It is a sad and difficult issue to deal with, but it is the reality of what the US is been telling our Nation. The Performace Budgeting. No performace, no econmic impact, no funding. It is that simple for the US. Those departments or agencies that will loose funding fail to show any economic impact for the money given to them last year. Also for some departments that money given was used for salaries and wages only nothing for bsuiness improvemnt or community services. JEMCO asked them to lower the salaries to 70%. A new budget proposal was submitted last week to JEMCO, lets hope that JEMCO would look favoribly on it and allow those departments and programs to receive funding from the Compact ll. In CHuuk, those effected departments are now funded by local revenue for one quarter only. There is a possibility that JEMCO will take $500,000.00 from the $5million Private Sector funds to improve the servcies and hire new people at the Finance Depertment, Property & SUpply, and the Personnel Offcie. These are some troble spots that needed overdued improvement also. $50,000.00 will also be taken to supplement the Chuuk Public Auditor office to hire an Auditor for the State. It is needed badly in CHuuk. Thanks to JEMCO for their wise idea to improve some of the services in CHuuk. As for those other Departments, such as Agriculture, Marine Resources, and C&I, the revised budget has been submitted, lets hope for the best. I am a beleiver in performace, or rewar for those who performed.
  • Thanks for the insight on this. I couldn't agree more that this is a very very serious and perhaps difficult situation, and we knew it will come soon. How soon, well i guess it's here and will continue to haunt us for the next 20 yrs. or even more. You know, one of the reasons i seldom listen to Legislature deliberations is for mere fact that they seem to be more problem-oriented then solution-oriented. If you listern carefully you would find they discuss many problems and seldom offer solutions to those problems. This seemed to be the problem we are facing with our leadership. If you have been following developments from both the Executive and Legislative branches, you will learn that there seemed to be an on-going power struggle between these guys. Since the beginning of this administration, they have been politically fighting to figure out who is right and who should have more authority or what. I think they need to shift their thinking and start fighting to save the very people who put them in office. Talking about setting priorities, i have a feeling that we don't really know what our priorities are. I feel so sorry that our people have to go thru this. What should we do? Or can we do something? Let's start thinking of some good solutions to these problems.
  • For everyone's information...fsm congress during its last regular session passed a bill appropriating over 2 million dollars from our locally generated funds to be used for their pork parrel it's close to election time and they are at it again abusing the hard earned revenues that could be used for other viable projects for the fsm.

    what do you think?
  • I am wondering if anyone has heard if JEMCO has decided on the budgets for Chuuk Yet? I thought that they were suppose to decide by today.
  • edited November 2006
    what is Pohnpei's minimum wage and what about other states? What is the median pay for gov workers? what is their personal annual spending? how many have begun businesses? how many have completed their education and in what vocations and fields? how many hours of tv do citizens watch per day? how many tv programs are local productions? how many emigrate to the US and its territories per month for "a better life"? how many fsmers are on welfare in the us and how long do they remain on welfare? how many us citizens are being elbowed out of their gov's provisions for them because of fsmers? how much spam, rice, sugar and bling-bling we consume annually? why dont we live within our means?
  • edited November 2006
    Lesson learned:
    1) Best recipient for private sector development grant is the private sector, not the public sector.
    2) Best recipient for environmental sector grant is NGO's(semi-private sector), not public sector

    Conclusion:The worst place to be, under Compact II, is in the State public sector. The only public sector that is growing, instead of downsizing, is the FSM National government. Now, we know what are OIA intentions and where we should look for a new job. Good luck to all.
  • This is a very important posting. It seem to describe a great change in our economic outlook. Sure we are now obligated to look to the land and sea to replace the values that we have so long substituted with imported values, they be monetary or cultural. How we utilize the land space towards livelihood will be pivotal in deciding the future vitality of our economy. Albeit, as far as the elevated cost of medecine and medication; some remote villages are still(hopefully) preserving the knowledge of natural medicine and other modes of healing. Perhaps the two different modes can find a way to co-exist.

    I like the analysis where the post was saying that it was not cutting the budget; but shifting it towards a more deserving recepient. This incident implies there will be an extended schedule of such appropriations that will seemingly go against the grain, but supposedly will enable us as a single economy to see congrete outcome in the future. Surely at the very beginning it will seem bizarre, but with time we will adjust and probably continue.

    The islands seemed existed many years before discovery and will probably be able to somehow (don't know how) survive the dwindling support. Here is where we may recall the title of a World War II story..."No Man Is An Island". Today no island is an "island"; we have affiliations whether we like it or not. A popular T-Shirt logo at a certain time of peace keeping goes something like..."If we are not here, someone else will be."? I don't know if I nailed that one exactly. Anyhow, these days, even an island can't be an "island" isolated and forgotten. Just no way. Politics will come and go; but knowing the islands; throughout known history, when left to its own devices somehow survives. Divine intervention? Magic man chanting? Who knows???
  • Hi Lodup

    Agree with much of your post. Would just like to add

    "The traditional navigator is an excellent model for planning since he uses the traditional wisdom of the past to plan his journey into the unknown ocean."

    I think that is a lesson for us all!
  • Thanks Phillip,

    Not only looking to the past, but tradnav also using the natural environ to discern present conditions, ie, level of seagull flights (low going inland with full belly). Feels the rebounding currents against canoe signalling counterripple when ocean slams against reef. Darkened horizon...Liohdakaikai is pissed off and ready to fart a Tsunami!!!, etc, etc., not to mention the highly technical navchart made with seashells and pandanus or coconut ribbing.

    micro at LARGE!
  • Hi Lodup

    LOL ...... nice one!!
  • lodup presents:....

    This ‘ere Life

    © Arthur Ehpel Joel

    This ‘ere life won’t be easy
    But I want you to feel to be with me
    Pre-dawn alone think’t tho’ts of big easy
    I need not your tears

    For I well know scuse me;
    These things they be
    We are to grow to be to see
    Knowing, Loving living the sea

    Eons in past life naked we jump
    The wharfs the reefs reeks the spray
    Just now the needs the new tech lump
    The generation cutting edge display

    For I well know, scuse me;
    These things they be
    We are to grow to be to see
    Knowing, loving living the sea…amen.

    Love the Sea,
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