Our subject, "Making Sense of an Independent Chuuk" will be a series of articles centered around newsletters, videos and other materials pertaining to the subject of "Chuuk Independence".
Please Read "Making Sense of an Independent Chuuk, Part 1".
Part 2 of this series of articles will center around the commission's newsletter entitled: "The End of the Compacts: What All Chuukese Should Know".
|(2004-2008) CPSC Figures Out of $251 Million
||Allocation (US $)
||Per Capita (US $)
Arguments FOR independence will be captioned with the word "FOR".
Arguments AGAINST independence will be captioned with the word "AGAINST".
In their newsletter the CPSC explain that:
"Chuuk is in need of a funding arrangement which would recognize our entire Chuukese population, both here and abroad... based on a projected FSM total of up to 120,000 [population], which would include at least 80,000 from Chuuk."
That estimate of "80,000" Chuukese citizens would bring Chuuk's total population within the FSM at "2/3" or 67 percent of the FSM's total population. A far greater percentage than the 46 percent provided. So, according to the Commission, funding to the state of Chuuk excludes over 30 percent of Chuuk's actual population. If included, Chuuk state should be receiving roughly 65 percent of the national funds based on its actual population. Current funding allocations is not enough to support Chuuk's actual population of about 80,000 citizens.
The commission hasn't explained why the FSM should count all Chuukese citizens including those living abroad when considering allocation amounts. Are the estimated Chuukese citizens living abroad a burden to the state of Chuuk? Quite the opposite, the Chuukese citizens living abroad have largely been helpful to the state of Chuuk and the FSM as a whole. As explained through a 2012 survey, Chuukese citizens living abroad send about $3 million to Chuuk annually.
Furthermore, the Commission does not provide a source for most of their numbers, especially important numbers such as the stated "80,000" Chuukese "actual population", with an estimated "30,000" Chuukese citizens living abroad. Statistics provide a different story, with 25-30,000 total FSM citizens living abroad (Hawaii, Guam, CNMI). About 18,000 of those citizens are from Chuuk. Recent estimates also place Chuuk's resident population at 48,000 since the year 2010, and a projected 46,000 by 2015 due to emigration. That accounts for a total of 65,000 Chuukese "actual population" not the suggested "80,000". It is possible that the Commission estimated citizens living elsewhere, or not in Hawaii, Guam or CNMI. But it is highly unlikely that they would account for the missing 15,000 citizens.
Further, if members of the commission are going to use Chuuk's "actual population" estimate (that's including citizens living abroad) for their argument on fund allocations, then shouldn't some of those funds go to the Chuukese citizens living abroad? As of now, roughly 1/3 of Chuuk's population live abroad, so should 1/3 of Chuuk's funds be going to citizens living overseas? Those funds might help with the healthcare issue and the homelessness that many Chuukese citizens are facing abroad, particularly in Hawaii. Although the funds would not be sufficient, It would be a much needed help considering that Chuuk state leadership has been, for the most part, absent in the lives of their overseas citizens. In the wake of their absence, regular citizens have taken the initiative to help their fellow countrymen.
"As long as Chuuk is only a part of a sovereign nation, and not one itself, percentage allocations will remain insufficient... other entities compete for shares of foreign assistance and governments outside Chuuk control and regulate our civic and private enterprises."
The CPSC has emphasized the dilemma of being part of a federation. The main issue with being a part of the FSM is that monies made by each of the four states has to be shared equally with each other. "Equally" is determined by the population of citizens residing in each state and it is to be determined by the national government. With Chuuk having the largest population of the four states, they receive the largest amount of money within the federation. However, even with the largest allocation amounts in the federation, as the graph above would show, Chuuk still receives the least amount of money per capita.
After reviewing the numbers listed in the newsletter (page 2, 5c.) also shown in the above graph, you will notice a marginal error in calculation. It states that with a population of 8,000 persons and $23 million in funding, the state of Kosrae received $3,250 per capita. However, the correct calculation should be $2,875 per capita. That is a disparity of $375 for a total of $3 million. The newsletter does not explain this disparity, so with good conscience, we must question the numbers provided within the entire newsletter. Not to mention how we've explained that the population figures in the newsletter are also inaccurate based on current estimates.
"...With independence, any and all funding from whatever international source arrives unrestricted and undelayed by outside government regulation."
The biggest reason for independence is "freedom". The freedom to control our own funds and to frame our own government. The freedom to not have to compete for foreign assistance and to be able to pursue our own goals. Under the FSM, Chuuk will not progress. Over the past years there hasn't been any economic growth in the private sector because government dominates all activities. That can be changed if Chuuk becomes independent. The leadership in Chuuk is confident that the people of Chuuk have a better chance to progress and are fully capable of developing positively as an independent nation. Although Chuuk has had a history of financial misconducts, the state has had a clean audit report for the past 4 years, and has recently appointed a public state auditor.
Can the people of Chuuk govern independently?
Historically, Chuuk has never been united, it has always been a region of fragmented polities. Different pockets of governments in the form of clans governed independently within the lagoon. These independent clans did not answer to a higher authority such as Pohnpei and Kosrae's high chief systems. This history of disunity has carried over until today, resulting in Chuuk's current political status, a status of internal disagreements. For example, land issues in Chuuk continue to be a huge problem and has resulted in the holdup of $120 million from the national government. The region of Faichuuk has expressed over multiple occasions their wish to separate from the state of Chuuk. The members of Chuuk's legislature have ignored their counterparts from the national level, even ignoring FSM president Manny Mori's (from Chuuk) request for a meeting. Along with president Mori, other leaders from Chuuk seem to disagree with the independent movement by not signing the final report. Even independent voices have erupted in opposition to the secession movement and have prompted a petition to stop the movement altogether.
Further examples of Chuuk's inability to function properly: to my knowledge, Chuuk has never had an independent prosecutor and has only recently appointed an independent public auditor. Both positions are required by law in the Chuuk state constitution, article IX and article VIII. It has been explained that the reason for Chuuk not having a state prosecutor is because the mayors of Chuuk have yet to agree to appointing one (another evidence of Chuuk's inability to function). Those important positions are needed to investigate and ultimately prosecute offenders. Because of the vacancy of these positions, Chuuk has built a reputation of corruption. According to a report by the US Department of State, "...Government corruption was a serious problem, particularly in Chuuk State." Audit reports from the national government for over 20 years have produced reports of: "incorrect budgetary amounts", "incorrect balances", no "formalized accounting system", "[cash used] for personal goods", "cash receipts... could not be located", "[employee] absent most of the year" and much more.
Chuuk has never been able to function properly as a cohesive entity throughout its history without outside assistance. The national government has been the entity that has kept Chuuk relatively intact, as Chuuk itself continues to worsen from the inside out.
Currently, compact funding accounts for over 70 percent of the state's budget. By 2024 compact funding will expire and the FSM Trust Fund will kick in to replace the absence of those funds. The newsletter shows estimates indicate that, the Trust Fund will "significantly fall short" to effectively launch the FSM into economic self-sufficiency. Projections show that the funds will, "evaporate within one or two years". Even with these discouraging predictions, the Trust Fund will still continue to take money from our state funds. After the funds have been drained we will become 4 poor states competing over scraps. The same funding allocation that has not worked for us today will still be in place to further limit us during this projected crisis.
A Chuuk independence will serve as a preliminary action. We must separate ourselves from the FSM to avoid having to compete with our neighbor states in the near future. As an independent nation, we can start planning and placing all of our efforts into the future of Chuuk.
Significant time and money will have gone by not preparing for the end of compact funding by 2024. We will have wasted 3 years or more chasing assumptions when facts have already been presented to us. Fact 1, compact funding is scheduled to end in 8 years, fact 2, the FSM national government already has a plan to make the FSM economically self-sufficient. According to the CPSC, they too have plans. Plan 1: (according to the newsletter) ask other countries for money. Plan 2: borrow the FSM's plan. Although at first glance it would seem convenient to use the FSM's "action plan", it should not work. The action plan was created over long years of research and is designed to be implemented for the FSM as a whole. The plan is not a cookie-cutter plan. If Chuuk should borrow it, it must be rewritten and will need guidance to oversee its implementation. An independent Chuuk with a copy of the FSM's action plan may spell disaster for one of those two entities, or for both. The creation of an independent Chuuk will fragment the nation, and will pin the two bodies against each other. Since the action plan emphasizes heavily on turning the region into a tourist destination, an independent Chuuk will ultimately turn its former partners into economic rivals.