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    Monday, July 16, 2018-6:53:23P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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LJ Castro proposes amendment to NMD land-trust-fund proposal

SAIPAN and Northern Islands Municipal Council Chairman Luis John D.L.G. Castro is proposing an amendment to House Legislative Initiative 20-1  which will establish a trust fund for persons of Northern Marianas descent or NMDs and provide direct benefits to them.

Introduced by House Committee on Natural Resource Chairwoman Alice S. Igitol, H.L.I. 20-1 is a proposal to amend the CNMI Constitution. It must be passed by an affirmative vote of three-fourths of the members of each house present and voting, and ratified by voters in a special or general election. A legislative initiative passed by the Legislature “may not be vetoed by the governor,” according to the Constitution.

Luis John D.L.G. Castro

In his letter to Igitol, Castro said the council is endorsing “unequivocally” the intent of the legislative  initiative.

Castro said the council is also proposing the following amendment that they want included in the language of the legislative initiative:

 “The trustees shall carry out the intention of Article VIII, Section 803 (e), of the Covenant by using the interest on the amount received for the lease of property at Tanapag Harbor for the development and maintenance of a memorial park.  The trustees shall transfer the interest accrued on the trust proceeds into a separate special account and held and maintained in trust by the Marianas Public Land Trust. The account shall be applied to the benefit of qualified persons of Northern Marianas descent domiciled in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands and who claim the CNMI as their residence, except that the trustees may retain the amount necessary to meet reasonable expenses of administration. To be qualified to receive an allocated portion of the accrued interest declared for distribution to qualified persons of Northern Marians descent…a person of Northern Marianas descent [must] obtain…an official Northern Marianas descent identification card issued by the Marianas Public Land Trust. Trustees of the Marianas Public Land Trust, in a duly convened public meeting, shall promulgate rules, regulations, policies, and procedures to implement the intent of this Act, and in accordance with the NMI Administrative Procedures Act and the NMI Open Government Act.”

According to Castro, “Land is many CNMI residents’ most valued possession. The framers of the Constitution made clear the importance of land to the people of the Commonwealth. Indeed, ‘land is the only significant asset that the people of the Commonwealth have. There are no substantial mineral resources; there is no large manufacturing enterprise capable of sustaining large numbers of people; there is no valuable location in important trade routes.’ ”

Castro said land is the primary source of wealth and job creation for NMD’s.