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    Friday, September 20, 2019-6:11:50P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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DPL emphasizes need for improved public benefits

(DPL) — Secretary of Public Lands Marianne Concepcion-Teregeyo recently provided clarification on the Department of Public Lands’ emphasis on improved public benefits from land lease revenues.

The ruling known as Civil Action 84-119 on the case of MPLT v. Marianas Public Land Corporation (the predecessor of MPLA) stated that “Chief Judge Robert Hefner defined reasonable expenses and ruled that expenses of administration do not include capital expenditures or capital improvements such as constructing roads, water lines, sewers, etc. on public land designated within the homestead program.”

Marianne Concepcion Teregeyo

“We have an affirmed court ruling upholding MPLT that DPL’s predecessors could not use revenue from leases on public land to pay for homestead infrastructure,” Secretary Concepcion-Teregeyo said.

Under the case ruling and in DPL’s recent negotiations for public land leases, she explains that ensuring benefits for Northern Marianas Descent remains a priority.

“We charge rent based on an appraisal on fair market value. We also collect a percentage of the business gross receipts which means that leases on public land are charged a base rent plus BGRT. We are also communicating with members of the Legislature for a possible constitutional amendment which would need to be ratified by the people, where the people will decide if DPL can use lease revenue to pay for homestead infrastructure. For now, we have negotiated for additional public benefit, on top of base rent, which is a commitment from the lessee for the next homestead development project,” she said.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres noted that since DPL is authorized to negotiate for public benefits, the department has successfully reached public benefit contributions and redirected all public benefit contributions into homestead areas.

“Homesteads have high populations of people of Northern Marianas Descent. In 2016, we worked with Docomo for their underground trenching lease. We successfully engaged public benefit contributions in addition to the base rental revenues from Docomo to install and provide buried fiber optic telecommunications infrastructure to homesteads and simultaneously bury underground electrical service conduit for CUC’s improvements. This has helped with necessary infrastructure costs for the As Gonno homestead subdivision. At the same time, this has strengthened telecommunications and our resilience against natural disasters,” Governor Torres said.

Recent public benefits include:

  • • IT&E (Kagman, As Gonno, and Garapan, Saipan) – providing landline and internet services at no charge to existing Youth Centers and to all future village youth center buildings in the CNMI until the expiration of the lease. Ongoing negotiations for an antenna site in the North as well as free outdoor wireless internet in selected areas such as Kagman, or Dandan are being discussed.
  • • Mobil Oil Marianas in Sasanhaya, Rota – up to $1,000.00 in fuel every month for the use of official government vehicles for the life of the lease with 15 years remaining, which totals up to $180,000.00) and is pending with the 21st Legislature.
  • • Joyful Hope – $75,000.00 worth of in-kind donations to be used for future homestead infrastructure development); for their lower base lease.
  • • Manbao in Garapan – playground equipment every five years for the duration of their lease.
  • • Advance Marine in Lower Base - $5,000.00 during each five-year period for the term of the lease); and 10 percent discount to Northern Marianas Descent for purchase of hollow blocks at Saipan Unicorn.

Secretary Concepcion-Teregeyo added that policies and regulations regarding lease revenues continue to improve over the last three years.

Since the creation of DPL in 2006, the department has transferred a total of $20.9 million to MPLT. Under the Torres administration, since 2016, $12,416,932 million has been remitted to the public land trust. This accounts for more than 57 percent of total funds transferred.

DPL now requires appraisal reports for new leases every five years. In the past, DPL lessees were required to submit an appraisal every ten years which hampered higher yield earnings during high performing years.

For more information on DPL, visit the DPL website to view requirements to lease public lands or applications for temporary use of public lands at www.dpl.gov.mp or www.facebook.com/DPLCNMI