The Inos administration and the House leadership are open to the idea of extending the current 55-year land leases to up to 99 years or revisiting Article 12, the land alienation provision of the NMI Constitution, for voters' consideration. This comes at a time when many of the islands' major hotels have only a few years left on their land leases and are therefore holding back renovations and reinvestments.
Gov. Eloy S. Inos said yesterday he supports revisiting Article 12 “and let the people make that decision” to make changes to it or repeal in its entirety, but he is also supporting an initiative to extend the 55-year land lease limit.
“I don't know if total repeal of Article 12 is the answer. Maybe increasing the term of the leasehold could be an answer here. That's why it has to be really discussed through the various public forum[s]. Not everyone would agree but it's important that we take the views of all sides here,” he told reporters after a Cabinet meeting.
Article 12 restricts ownership of land only to people of Northern Marianas descent.
He said the 55-year land lease could be extended to 75 or 99.
House Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero (IR-Saipan) said one of the House leadership members may be introducing an initiative extending the 55-year leases to 99 years, for presentation to voters.
Deleon Guerrero said he is not planning to resurrect an initiative he introduced in the previous Legislature on Article 12.
“I think Article 12 at this point, the community is just too divided. I think we may need to look at other alternatives. There may be an initiative to extend the term of land leases to maybe 99 years and the purpose of that is to allow some of the developments, some of the major hotels and golf courses that are situated on public land to be able to reinvest in its development whether to renovate, to expand or just improve of it. We do need to stimulate the economy by improving our destination and that could be one way of doing it,” he said.