HAGATÑA, Guam—CNMI Gov. Eloy S. Inos joined Guam Gov. Eddie Baza Calvo here yesterday for the 2013 Summer Meeting of the Pacific Basin Development Council. Calvo currently serves as the PBDC president.
American Samoa Gov. Lolo Moliga and Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie, the other two members of the PBDC, were not able to attend this year’s meeting.
PBDC technical advisory committee members Angel Demapan (CNMI) and Telo Taitague (Guam) also attended the meeting.
At the opening of the meeting, Calvo and Inos shared their mutual concerns about the applicability of certain federal mandates on the territories. The Affordable Care Act is a good example of one of those mandates that Calvo pointed out is easily applicable in the states but much more complicated for the territories.
One of the issues of the ACA is the Medicaid cap. Under the ACA, more funds were made available to increase the cap. However, because of the matching requirement, Guam and the CNMI do not necessarily have enough fiscal resources to provide matching funds in order to avail of the increased cap on Medicaid.
Other federal mandates that have proven to be heavily burdensome against much more frail island economies include stipulated orders and stringent requirements imposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and federal laws like the Clean Water and Clean Air acts.
“Over time, the applicability of certain federal mandates to the territories often end up being extreme economic and financial challenges on the fragile economies of island governments,” said Inos. “These issues surrounding federal mandates have also been a topic of discussion in Hawaii and American Samoa. We simply don’t have the financial ability to support some of these mandates.”
There was also discussion on how to effectively strategize impending military realignment efforts from a wider Pacific perspective. It was recommended that the PBDC members come together to collaborate and coordinate programmatic efforts in order to ensure maximum benefits and quality of life for all residents.
As part of the PBDC meeting, presentations were made on the issues of tourism, China visa waiver program, compact impact funding and costs, and regional workforce development.
However, because of the significance of these issues, Calvo and Inos agreed to hold follow-up discussion on these issues at the next PBDC meeting in February so that the other member-governors will be able to participate and raise any concerns they may have.
The PBDC was established in 1980 by the governors of American Samoa, Guam, Hawaii and the CNMI to address regional economic and social concerns. (Office of the Governor)