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    Monday, August 26, 2019-9:05:27P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Governor suspends CUC procurement rules, Board of Professional Licensing rules

GOVERNOR Ralph DLG Torres on Wednesday issued an executive order suspending the Commonwealth Utilities Corp.’s regulations on procurement and the Board of Professional Licensing’s rules on the practice of engineering.

A similar E.O. was signed on Jan. 7, 2019 by then-Lt. Gov. Victor B. Hocog in his capacity as acting governor.

The latest E.O. states that electric power transmission and distribution grids on Saipan and Tinian were devastated by Super Typhoon Yutu, and that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been activated to address the ongoing emergency.

Ralph Torres

It also states that “there are insufficient government resources to restore these power distribution grids without the prompt supply of extra material and the assistance of outside contractors.”

The E.O. calls for a “limited suspension” of CUC’s procurement regulations and BPL’s regulations in connection with the restoration of water and power on Saipan and Tinian.”

“Suspension of regulations impeding the prompt acquisition of necessary materials and use of outside contractors is reasonably necessary to adequately respond to the state of significant emergency because the continued imposition of such regulations will prevent, hinder, or delay actions necessary to assist and support the commonwealth in its recovery from Super Typhoon Yutu,” the EO stated.

“The CUC’s procurement regulations codified at [NMI Administrative Code] Section 50-50-001 are suspended with regard to the procurement of material and services necessary to fully restore power and water service to the islands of Saipan and Tinian. Further suspended is any provision requiring certification of funds. Procurement of such items and services shall be accomplished through the streamlined procurement procedures established by the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Contracts and procurement documents (including without limitation RFP documents [if any]) entered into by CUC or the Office of the Governor pursuant to this executive order may be signed by CUC’s executive director upon approval of the governor’s authorized representative, or the governor or his designee, or the special assistant for Homeland Security and Emergency Management pursuant to their emergency powers.”

The governor also ordered the suspension of BPL’s regulations governing the practice of engineering and the licensing requirements with regard to the practice of engineering “rendered (or offered) in response or pursuant to any contract with CUC for services necessary for the corporation’s typhoon recovery efforts.”

Sen. Vinnie Sablan, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Utilities, Transportation and Communications, expressed hope that “all [steps taken] during this declaration are accounted for and done with the assistance of the experts to ultimately provide effective services and to bring back a sense of normalcy to our people.”

Sablan said Typhoon Mangkhut and Super Typhoon Yutu “have certainly put a dent in the CNMI’s financial state. The cost of recovery is in the millions and continues to rise as the government continues its efforts towards 100 percent recovery.”

He added, “In unforeseen circumstances like such, certain procurement regulations and finance procedures may need to be adjusted to ensure that utility and infrastructure services are effectively brought back to our people in a timely manner.”

He said the governor “recognizes the need to declare a state of emergency to pull more resources and services for the recovery and most importantly put in place proactive measures in anticipation of future natural disasters.”