July 24, 2000
Tinian airport expansion gets $6.51M more
An additional funding of $6.51 million was earmarked last Friday by lawmakers for the West Tinian International Airport expansion project after its initial estimated budget of $17 million fell short of actual costs. Half of that money will come from the proceeds of the forthcoming $60 million bonds that the government will float to finance various capital improvement projects in the CNMI, while the other half will be from the federal construction grants under the Covenant Section 702 funding. The House of Representatives cleared the appropriation bill sponsored by Tinian Rep. Norman S. Palacios to set the process in motion and is now awaiting action by the Senate.
PSS gears up for more technology- oriented schools
Public education in the CNMI is becoming more technology-oriented with close to $500,000 in new financial assistance awarded by the U.S. Schools and Libraries Division to the Public School System to equip each classroom with latest technology devices. With resources available to connect schools to Internet and distance learning, PSS is anticipating lesser hurdles in linking public schools on Saipan, Rota, and Tinian through interaction using Internet-ready computers, cellular phones, and long distance telephone communication. PSS had earlier aimed for an 82 percent telecommunication discount rate or E-Rate to avail of these services from SLD but was only granted a discount of up to 76 percent.
July 24, 2001
MVA woos Chinese carrier to serve Saipan
Tourism officials are courting the China Southern Airlines to provide nonstop service between the country and Saipan, to accommodate the increasing number of CNMI-bound Chinese travelers. Marianas Visitors Authority officials are scheduled to fly to China next month for a goodwill visit. Officials are also expected to meet with travel agents in the country. In an interview, MVA Board Chair Dave M. Sablan disclosed plans to tap the assistance of the China Southern Airlines and open negotiations for a possible direct flight between China and Saipan.
Fitial decries Miller’s bashing of US areas
House Speaker Benigno R. Fitial yesterday condemned US Rep. George Miller's most recent anti-CNMI statements and said it would be unfair for the latter to "continue bashing us with recycled allegations that may no longer hold true." The House leader was reacting to Miller's latest "Dear Colleague" letter that sought action on alleged labor malpractices and worker exploitation in American Samoa, at the same time presenting Saipan as an example of "what any US entity should not be like." "Mr. Miller's sweeping generalizations are uncalled for," said Fitial. "That the situation on Saipan has significantly changed for the better since the time labor abuse allegations were made in the late 1980s or early 1990s, I think, is indisputable. Yet, I suppose it is most difficult to convince someone who refuses to see the truth."
July 24, 2002
CPA removes 15-minute free parking
The Commonwealth Ports Authority has removed free parking privileges for vehicles using its Saipan airport and seaport parking facilities for a period that is 15 minutes or less. The CPA Board of Directors scrapped the 15-minute grace period previously accorded to car owners using the agency’s parking areas at the airport and at the harbor in hopes to increase revenue in light of the continued decline in ports-related activities. The CPA board ordered the removal of the grace period last June 28, 2002, according to Saipan Seaport Manager Tony Cabrera.
US passport fees to increase
The U.S. Department of State recently noted that the changes are the result of an independent fee study done to ensure that the true costs of providing consular services to Americans are recovered. This includes services to Americans provided at U.S. embassies and consulates abroad, as well as the passport applications processed in the U.S. The application fee for first-time adult customers will increase from $60 to $85. The fee for minors under 16 years old will increase from $40 to $70. The adult renewal application fee will increase from $40 to $55. The additional cost for expedited service will increase from $35 to $60.