9 May 2003

Presidential decree recognizes the special problems faced by US Pacific Territories

3:26 pm on 9 May 2003

The US President George W. Bush has signed an executive order to re-establish the Interagency Group on Insular Areas (IGIA) which will co-ordinate federal policy towards Guam, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas.

The signing of the executive order at a White House ceremony commemorates Asian-Pacific Heritage Month.

Secretary of the Interior, Gale Norton, one of a number of top officials attending the ceremony, said the president has demonstrated his appreciation and concern for the special issues faced by the territories.

Mr Norton's Deputy Assistant, David Cohen, said the policies designed for 50 states must be carefully analysed to determine if they make sense for the territories.

Mr Cohen said all of the territories are much poorer and less developed than the poorest states and each territory faces unique issues arising from its remote location, its special legal status and lack of resources.

He said policies designed for the 50 states may not fit properly in the territories and the IGIA will be able to spot those cases and recommend appropriate adjustments.