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    Monday, October 15, 2018-6:32:30A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Igisomar: United subsidy proposal should be reviewed

SENATOR Sixto K. Igisomar  said the proposal to subsidize United Airlines in order for it to continue providing  CNMI flight service should be reviewed thoroughly.

In an interview, he said it was “unfortunate that the governor was put in a situation where he needs to address an emergency problem just because the agency that is supposed to do its job failed to address it years ago.” He did not say which agency failed to do its job.

He added, “I understand the governor. I support the governor. He cares about his people.  But it is also the duty of agencies, departments and boards to look for ways to deal with situations like this. They have to try to see these things beforehand.  Let’s not keep putting our governor in a position where he needs to make a decision on an urgent matter. Let us not do it in haste just because something was not vetted properly.”

Igisomar said he is not against the idea of providing a subsidy.

“But I want to say that I am uncomfortable giving just anybody money to do something. I am very uncomfortable…. I believe in transparency and in vetting. For example, let’s say I will give United Airlines money, but who’s to say that there’s no one else that can qualify aside from United to do that? What if we have locals here that currently have airlines that can offer the same thing? So what I am saying is, let us do a proper vetting and do the transparent thing. Did we ask businesses here or other airline companies if they are willing to offer the same sevice without costing the CNMI so much?

“I am not saying I don’t agree with it, but let’s not do it with haste. That’s the reason why, when during our session and when we discussed the airline issue, I mentioned my Senate Bill 20-50.  I introduced it out of a sense of urgency because at that time we were having issues with Cape Air. Cape Air was having technical problems and didn’t have enough money to operate and not enough passengers.

“Had we entertained the bill at that time, we could have addressed some of the problems we face now. We could have prevented them from happening. We could have gained more information and understanding about these issues instead of just giving money to an airline company.”

Igisomar said his bill would have authorized the Commonwealth Ports Authority to give incentives to airlines, and to  re-route some of the flights and address the noise-pollution complaints of residents on Mt. Tapochao, in Dandan, San Vicente and Kagman.

“The bill was introduced out of impatience,” he added. “I know CPA could give incentives, and there was no need for legislation to compel them to do it. When I introduced that bill, I was trying to make a statement by telling them that by introducing the bill, it would push them to make it a priority — to speed things up, so we would have an idea in which direction the airport was  heading. It is not like I was encroaching on their [CPA’s] authority, I just wanted them to work with [the Federal Aviation Administration] to address the concerns and issues at that time. Now we are at a crossroads. We could have already found some light at the end of the tunnel if we had only better considered certain policies.”