16 Jul 2014
- By Junhan B. Todiño - firstname.lastname@example.org - Variety News Staff
THE Northern Islands mayor’s office will start facilitating the initial implementation of the Gani Islands Free Trade Zone program this year, Mayor Tobias DLC. Aldan said.
Aldan informed the Department of Public Lands and the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation that the free trade zone is to be known as Frontier Development Investment 2020.
This is in accordance with P.L. 18-16, which was designed to integrate the Northern Islands mayor’s office frontier summit development priorities with the objectives of the free trade zone, he added.
Aldan said the socio-economic development investment priorities will include specialty crop agriculture, community gardens, flori-culture, cultured fishing, cultured black pearl, shell crafting, environment-friendly and low footprint tourism such as eco-tourism, agri-tourism, etc., hot spring and black sand health, sun and wellness, aqua-culture, films and filming, scientific research laboratory for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Fish & Wildlife, the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, flight training, skydiving, cultural learning institute, study tours research and summer exploratory camps catering to university students.
“Barring unforeseen difficulties, [my office] will initiate an invitation for investment to Gani [the Northern Islands] through the Frontier Development Investment 2020,” the mayor said.
In the meantime, he said his office will only be accepting exploratory statements of interest from individuals, firms and non-government or non-profit organizations on identified development priorities pursuant to P.L. 18-16 and the Northern Islands’ development priorities.
He said an interested party will be required to submit a three-page letter of interest to the mayor’s office via facsimile, postal mail or hand-delivery.
The initial letter of intent is not to exceed three pages.
Aldan said the content should explain the type of business or commercial activity and how it relates to his office’s identified priorities.
It should demonstrate the capacity of the interested party in undertaking the expressed scope of business interest and must take into account labor and capitalization requirements. Past experience in the proposed business or commercial venture will also be considered.
Aldan said the letter of intent should include the investor’s forecast or projection on job and wealth creation stemming from the proposed business or commercial activity, and the type of assistance desired or needed from the mayor’s office to facilitate the proposer undertake the identified business or commercial venture in the Gani Islands.
The mayor said he will provide DPL an island-by-island free trade zone development focus and priority pursuant to Public Law 16-8.
Aldan, in his letter to DPL Secretary Pete A. Tenorio, said the department has taken “swift” action on Honest Profits Inc., Coral Ocean Point and a mega-resort in Marpi, among other investments, which is “in stark contrast to [the Northern Islands mayor’s office’s] longstanding correspondence and other previous discussions pertaining to socio-economic development priorities in the Northern Islands…after the 2013 summit.”
The mayor said they have numerous consultative meetings with DPL, Saipan lawmakers and Gani residents until the 18th Legislature, though the Senate, introduced legislation which eventually became Public Law 18-16.
Aldan said the action on the CNMI Free Trade Zone initiated by Senate Vice President Victor Borja Hocog resulted in Public Law 18-16 that now includes the Northern Islands in the program “and is considered a pivotal turning point in Gani development objectives.”
Aldan added, “The law is significant, as it is designed to boost economic diversification in the CNMI. P.L. 18-16 articulates the CNMI’s preferred set of economic activities for diversification that are environment-friendly and compatible with tourism and related business, industry, and commercial activities.”
Furthermore, Alan said the law stipulates that the desired economic activities must generate or have high potential for job and wealth creation that ultimately benefits the host community or the Northern Islands.
Aldan said there are other actions taken by the Legislature that are deemed positive steps for Gani’s progress and prosperity.
These include House Resolution 18-39, authored by Rep. Roman Benavente and others, requesting Gov. Eloy S. Inos and the DPL secretary to take action on the pending distribution of allocated homesteads in the Northern Islands; a resolution which referenced a previous House Resolution 12-28 dated March, 2000 and Saipan Municipal Council resolution 6SMC-2R-16 dated April 2000; House Joint Resolution 18-14 authored by Speaker Joseph P. Deleon Guerrero and others to oppose the live-fire militarization of the entire island of Pagan; House Bill 18-109 authored by Rep. Trenton Conner to compel issuance of homestead lots in the Northern Islands; and the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation Committee on Natural Resources hearing in the House chamber on Oct. 3, 2013 with DPL Secretary Tenorio, his staff, Northern Islands mayor’s office staff and socio-economic planners.
Aldan said the meeting focused on DPL’s “inaction in resolving the longstanding issue over the issuance of homesteads to the residents” and its “apparent preference in favor of the militarization proposal…on Pagan.”