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A week before primary, Palau presidential aspirants reach out to voters

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KOROR (Island Times/Pacnews) —  The four presidential aspirants have entered the final sprint of the campaign by talking to voters about various issues, which include the impact of Covid-19 on the economy, the marine sanctuary, Compact negotiations and new initiatives to raise government revenue.

Vice President Raynold Oilouch, former Sen. Alan Seid, former President Johnson Toribiong and former Sen. Surangel Whipps Jr. will battle it out in the primary scheduled for Sept. 22.

The top two vote-getters will face each other in the November general elections.

Oilouch said as a current official of the government he has a deeper insight into its operation and its response to Covid-19, adding that his administration would provide stability in an uncertain time.

“The next president of Palau should…provide assurance to the Palauan people that we remain united, that we should be together and we will get through this temporary hardship together — this is not the time to divide the community, not the time to scare the Palauan people,” he said. 

Oilouch is not in favor of budget cuts, saying that jobs and services will be affected.

He is also not in favor of abolishing the Palau National Marine Sanctuary, but if he sees problems with it, then it should be reviewed to ensure that the law can be improved.

As for Seid, he said it is the next Palau administration, and not the outgoing one, that should renegotiate the Compact with the U.S.

But Whipps said it does not matter when or who negotiates the Compact, but he hopes that the current negotiating team knows what it is doing and will get the best deal for Palau.

Oilouch said the Compact renegotiation should not be a political issue for the candidates who should let the current negotiators do their work.

Oilouch, Seid and Whipps are in favor of reopening the borders for international tourism.

“I really want to reopen the borders as soon as possible,” Seid said. “I think we must look seriously into having a clear methodology of testing. Tourists should be tested 48 hours before flying and I think we should reduce the number of quarantine days to seven from 14.”

He is also in favor of waiving  visa fees to allow tourists to stay longer in Palau.

He said a lockdown is not economically viable.

Toribiong, for his part, believes the health of the people is more important than the economy.

Whipps said he would invest in the Palauan people by improving the educational system, raising the $3.50 minimum wage rate, and implementing tax reforms.


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