GOVERNOR Ralph DLG Torres and the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers, or GCEA, presented their annual report to the Saipan Chamber of Commerce last week.

The governor underscored the importance of transforming the Commonwealth into a world-class destination, lauding government, private sector, and community partners for rallying together through the Public Private Partnership during the pandemic.

“The whole idea was to bring in our private partners to make things easier, to make their investments easier, to protect their investments, and to expedite those investments. So, throughout the last couple of years.... I want to thank all of you for participating in one way or another. I know that there are private partners who have definitely contributed to this, and you’ll see later on the success that we’ve had,” he said.

He added, “At the end of the day, the goal was to keep the CNMI going and having CNMI be a world-class destination, understanding that it’s not going to be a year, it’s not going to be two years, but we’ve got to start somewhere, but start somewhere with a strong foundation. So, as we’ve seen throughout the last couple of years, we’ve had private partners going out and really putting their contribution, their resources, volunteered through all the tourist destinations, medians, parking lots, and putting their effort to make the CNMI a better place for all of us and for our tourism.... Let’s continue [to make] the CNMI a world-class destination.”

Furthermore, he said, “We truly appreciate your partnership. The government would not be running the way that it is without your partnership, and honestly, this is a partnership that needs to continue to strengthen and fix what needs to be fixed in order for all of us to move forward. Your success is definitely our success, and the government’s success is your success.”

GCEA co-chair Jerry Tan, for his part, discussed the progress that the council has made since its establishment, including this particular partnership across the CNMI.

“We’re very proud to have so much participation. It’s not a one-year thing. In fact, the PPP program is even busier this year in the first three months. We have even signed up new partners. We used to go out and contact them to see if they would be interested. Now they’re calling [us] to say that they’d like to participate, so it’s very, very exciting,” he said.

“For the initial phase of the destination transformation, we’re actually working with one particular partner: [the Mariana Islands Nature Alliance], so with that, I think you can tell that we are concerned about the environment as we talk about economic development. MINA is actually chosen as one of our big partners right now in going forward with the destination transformation.”

Triple J Enterprises Inc. vice president Mike Sablan, who also serves as chairperson of the GCEA Domestic Policy and Recovery Committee, acknowledged the strong support and action of co-chairs Governor Torres and Tan in improving the quality of life in the Marianas for all residents.

The committee Sablan chairs took part in the transformation of the Commonwealth Development Authority to the Commonwealth Economic Development Authority, to focus primarily on economic development throughout the CNMI, as opposed to the many hats the entity has worn since it was first established several decades ago.

Sablan said CEDA has now hired a new economic development manager with an economics background, selected out of a pool of 10 candidates from the local and national levels.

“It’s a big step forward,” he said.

He also touched on various measures that GCEA is supporting to help revive the local economy.

He lauded the administration for its efforts to centralize permitting in the CNMI.

Sablan also spoke on the importance of factoring in the environment amid economic development.

“The environment is very important to all of us and we incorporate it in all of our plans. The Universal Garbage Collection Task Force is a big step forward to cleaning up our garbage problem here, and that ties in very well with the Environmental Council’s work. Garbage is just one component; we need to be conscious of the environment in general. I know that a new housing program...was delayed a little bit because they required green energy features in all of the home designs, so that’s another big step forward in terms of the environment and being more conscious of that sustainable development, not just development for commercial purposes,” he said.

To view the video summary of the GCEA 2021 Annual Report, visit https://youtu.be/YIpTCRvrZUE

For the video summary of the GCEA PPP Program 2021 Annual Report, visit https://youtu.be/Hfw5gaE0luI

A digital copy of the GCEA Annual Report is available on the GCEA website at https://www.cnmieconomy.com/reports 

As an advisory council for the administration, the GCEA’s mission is to improve the quality of life in the Marianas for all residents.

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