Compact of Free Association: Implementation Activities Have Progressed, but the Marshall Islands Faces Challenges to Achieving Long-Term Compact Goals

GAO-07-1258T Published: Sep 25, 2007. Publicly Released: Sep 25, 2007.
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In 2003, the U.S. government extended its economic assistance to the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) through an Amended Compact of Free Association. From 2004 to 2023, the United States will provide an estimated $1.5 billion to the RMI, with annually decreasing grants as well as increasing contributions to a trust fund. The assistance, targeting six sectors, is aimed at assisting the country's efforts to promote economic advancement and budgetary self-reliance. The trust fund is to be invested and provide income for the RMI after compact grants end. The Department of the Interior (Interior) administers and oversees this assistance. Drawing on prior GAO reports (GAO-05-633, GAO-06-590, GAO-07-163, GAO-07-513, GAO-07-514R), this testimony discusses (1) the RMI's economic prospects, (2) implementation of the amended compact to meet long-term goals, and (3) potential trust fund earnings. In conducting its prior work, GAO visited the RMI, reviewed reports, interviewed officials and experts, and used a simulation model to project the trust fund's income. Prior GAO reports recommended, among other things, that Interior work with the RMI to address lack of progress in implementing reforms; plan for declining grants; reliably measure progress; and ensure timely reporting on the fund's likely status as a source of revenue after 2023. Interior agreed with GAO's recommendations.

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