Marianas Variety

Last updateWed, 20 Dec 2017 12am

Headlines:

     

     

     

     

     

    Monday, December 18, 2017-11:24:36P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

Font Size

Settings

Former senator: CW cut to further delay construction projects

FORMER Sen. Pete P. Reyes said the steep cut in the number of CW-1 permits announced by the U.S. government has caught many by surprise, and will further delay construction projects.

In a letter to Senate President Arnold Palacios and Speaker Ralph Demapan dated Dec. 4, Reyes urged the Legislature to address concerns regarding investments affected by the islands’ workforce crisis.

“Needless to say, [the CW cut] will have a tremendous impact that may lead to disaster and the loss of investor confidence. This situation could easily result in the loss of job opportunities for our people, a substantial weakening of our revenue and a reduced financial multiplier effect overall,” Reyes said.

“They understand that our governor is doing all it can to find a reasonable solution. Meanwhile, they are wondering if there is something locally that can be done by our government to help convince their partners and board of directors that the CNMI is serious about their contribution to our economy.”

Reyes said while there may be very little the CNMI government can do about the federal law governing the CW-1 program, the commonwealth can still do something to encourage investors to stay on island and complete their commitment to the Northern Marianas.

“All they need is for the Legislature to encourage [the Department of Public Lands] to allow them to exercise their option to seek a 15-year land lease extension,” Reyes said.

DPL, he added, generally grants the lessee an option to extend public land leases for one additional term of 15 years, subject to the approval of the Legislature.

Reyes said if the lessee decides to exercise its option to extend the lease, it will enter into an extension agreement with DPL.

“Yet investors wishing to invoke this provision are not being afforded the opportunity to do so,” Reyes added.

“If DPL is not willing to administratively perform this request due to lack of authority, then an enactment of legislation may be necessary,” he said adding this will bring some semblance of confidence to the investors and will encourage them to stay on island.

“I am humbly requesting your support to give this matter your serious attention. I’ve discussed this approach with the president of the [Saipan] Chamber of Commerce and the board of directors of the [Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands] and the recommendation was immediately embraced by them. We simply cannot stand by and do nothing. I am urging our legislative members to take action locally that would provide assurances of our government’s commitment and partnership with investors for the betterment of our economy.”