Wisdom is not prevailing with the renewal of the Mariana Resort lease as the people of the CNMI are being left out of the deal again not knowing what we will get out of it. I wonder how the NMDs feel, knowing that Kan Pacific and Best Sunshine were secretly discussing what they are going to do with your land and even determining how much they are going to give you for the lease renewal. I don’t have a stake in this but my wife and children do, so I speak for them. The funny thing is that what Kan Pacific and BSI are doing seems to be legal and I don’t blame them as business people who want to strike the best deal for themselves, not for the people. I also don’t blame the Legislature for wanting to “clip the wings” of DPL but will that be a perpetual fix when there is still no formal process for future lease renewals?
The problem has been sitting idle since the conception of the lease program because there was never a formal process to renew the lease of any leased government land. Now the people are caught between a rock and a hard place and can’t make a move to change the dynamics of the deal. If I’m not mistaken, the primary objective of the government is not to renovate our economy but to build and broaden our economic base that has been devastated by the loss of the garment industry and the declining economies in other countries.
People are just fortunate that Senate floor leader Arnold Palacios is being true to his election promise, which was to “work for us.” Everyone with a vested interest in the CNMI should thank him for demanding an investigation because one thing is clear even without an investigation—the people will now get less out of the leased property with no competitive bids on the table so BSI wins but we the people lose! BSI is just better business people than DPL who allowed the people to be sidelined in the deal. DPL never did its homework to create a formal lease renewal procedure for all government lands that would favor the people. BSI should have been forced to build a new hotel as expected in the contract with the government, and then we would have two fully developed properties instead of an old one being renovated by BSI. In fact, Kan Pacific’s plans were to renovate and expand anyway so why didn’t DPL force BSI to build a new hotel like we expected?
Now people are in the dark over the lease deal. Just like with the casino, we need to know every month how much we are making or at least an estimate—it is just that simple. The problem is getting the commission to do the work. But thanks to Sen. Palacios, we will know what the CNMI is getting out of this deal even though it was done behind closed doors, which I personally view as an insult to the landowners (the people) and even dumb on DPL’s part to let it get to that point. DPL should know that “competition” is the best countermeasure in these kind of deals and letting Kan Pacific and BSI get together only served to empower them to determine what would be done with the property and how much BSI will bid, which will be much lower now with Kan Pacific out of the picture!
There are still other government properties with leases that will need to be renewed so hopefully someone will do the homework so we don’t have to go through this again. Thanks, Sen. Palacios, and please consider creating legislation for all government lease renewals or at least force DPL to do its homework because the people are going to continue to be the losers in lease renewal deals without a formal renewal process that is driven by competition to always work in favor of the people and not the investor with the most money who can buy out the competition. The people will also be losing a considerable amount of the Japanese tourist market with the loss of Mariana Resort, narrowing our economic base when we should be broadening it. We can only pray that U.S. and China relations will hold up for the life of our tourist industry.
Ambrose M. Bennett