March 19, 2003
NMI awaits war orders
Gov. Juan N. Babauta said the CNMI is bracing for instructions, if any, coming from the U.S. government on the impending U.S.-led war against Iraq, following President Bush’s 48-hour ultimatum to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and his sons to either leave the embattled Middle Eastern country or face military attacks. The local chief executive made the statement yesterday almost immediately after viewing Bush’s national address on television with Lt. Gov. Diego T. Benavente, some Cabinet members and government employees present at the Governor’s executive conference room in Capital Hill. After catching Bush’s live address, the administration quickly called for an emergency meeting gathering Cabinet members to discuss preparedness efforts in the event that a shooting war breaks out in less than two days.
Wholesalers, retailers: No need for panic buying
With the 48-hour deadline for Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, the Saipan Association of Wholesalers and Distributors said yesterday it would convene in efforts to stabilize the supply of basic commodities in the Commonwealth to prevent panic buying, which is already happening in some countries. Association president Kitz Barja said the group would come out with plans on how to keep the flow of supplies into the Commonwealth going, even if a war between the United States and Iraq eventually erupts. “We will meet on that and discuss it, possibly in the coming weeks,” Barja said.
March 19, 2004
CDA rejects airline investment
The Commonwealth Development Authority passed up the opportunity to invest $500,000 of CNMI funds in Palau Micronesia Air after assessing the business deal as a high-risk investment. Chairman Sixto K. Igisomar told Gov. Juan N. Babauta that CDA board members voted five to zero to reject the proposal, mainly due to finance and marketing worries. Following a thorough review of the investment proposition, the board concluded that “PMA’s business plan is overly optimistic” without the backing of an adequate marketing plan. “CDA, as an investor/shareholder, must look for ’value’ in the investment, and as it now stands, it can lose its investment in one year,” Igisomar expressed.
Economic devt strategy OK’d
The Economic Development Administration, under the U.S. Department of Commerce, has approved the CNMI’s 2003-2004 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, which could pave the way for millions of funding assistance for the Commonwealth in projects designed to foster economic growth. Commerce Secretary Fermin M. Atalig, currently the acting Finance Secretary, confirmed the plan’s approval with the EDA regional office in Seattle, Washington. The CEDS has been approved since Oct. 1, 2003, according to EDA Community Planner Lloyd Kirry. The CEDS, developed by a 19-member commission appointed by Gov. Juan N. Babauta, highlights a list of priority areas that the CNMI needs to encourage economic expansion.
March 19, 2005
Betel nut fungi spread to San Vicente
The deadly fungus that has already killed hundreds of betel nut trees on Saipan has now spread to over a hundred trees in San Vicente, according to a local expert. Northern Marianas College--Cooperative Research Extension and Education Services agricultural consultant Isidoro Cabrera said yesterday that his group discovered another outbreak of the fungus Phytophthora meadii in San Vicente during a regular routine surveillance of the area. San Vicente now joins other areas whose betel nut trees have been infected by the fungus, including As Lito, As Mahetog, Capitol Hill, Donni, Kagman, Papago, and Tanapag.
CUC: $8.2M of receivables uncollectible
The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. has considered $8.2 million of its total receivables uncollectible, with the accounts being past due for over 75 days. CUC’s latest financial report showed that utility receivables totaled about $33.7 million as of Jan. 31, 2005. Of this amount, about $20.1 million is due from CNMI government agencies. The remaining $13.6 million is due from residential and commercial customers. Of the amount due from households and businesses, CUC estimated that about $8.2 million is “uncollectible.” This includes all accounts due for more than 75 days, as well as over $936,000 that is due from 21 customers who have easement claims against CUC.