The Rota Legislative Delegation passed with an amendment Tuesday a local bill appropriating $20,000 in poker license fees for Rota patients, scholars and other programs.
Sen. Juan Ayuyu (Ind-Rota), chairman of the Rota Legislative Delegation, said the amendment redistributes the $2,000 previously appropriated as partial payment of the Rota Casino Gaming Commission's $290,000 debt to the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation.
Rep. Teresita Santos (Ind-Rota), author of House Local Bill 17-88, originally appropriated the $2,000 for the Saipan delegation as a “show of good faith.”
But during Tuesday afternoon's session of the Rota Legislative Delegation, Ayuyu announced that SNILD chair Rep. Ray Tebuteb (R-Saipan) agreed with Ayuyu's request to have the $2,000 used instead for Rota's other programs such as patient subsistence allowance and scholarship.
HLB 17-88 passed by a vote of 3-0. Senate President Paul Manglona (Ind-Rota) was absent, owing to the limited flight from Rota after Freedom Air's 30-seater aircraft encountered mechanical problems on Saturday. As of Tuesday, there's no telling when Freedom Air will be able to fix the aircraft.
But Freedom Air-Saipan manager Dennis Cruz said they are currently using their 5-seater aircraft to accommodate passengers who had already bought tickets for the bigger aircraft.
“So right now we are not taking reservations for this small aircraft,” Cruz said.
Ayuyu and the rest of the Rota delegation are hoping that the Commonwealth Development Authority will accommodate Freedom Air's loan request of $600,000.
Freedom Air applied for a $2.9 million loan, but CDA approved only $900,000 in March this year. Freedom Air said the amount is not enough to cover priority expenditures, adding that its attempts to seek loans from private banks were unsuccessful because of lack of asset/collateral to back up the loan proposal.
In July, Freedom Air spokesperson Amjad Farhoud said the interisland carrier needs an additional $600,000 loan from CDA to allow it to continue its operations for the next six months.