Investors and the general public should expect a flurry of economic activities as the government has started bidding out major projects or portions of them—from seeking out an underwriter for an up-to-$300-million pension obligation bond to a feasibility study contractor for a Saipan-Tinian route ferry service and a contractor for a permanent Saipan public market at Garapan Fishing Base.
“This administration is focused on getting major projects underway as well as availing of any and all available funding sources that stand to benefit the economy and the people of the Commonwealth,” press secretary Angel Demapan said yesterday.
Tourism arrivals have been steadily increasing, with July numbers alone jumping by 21 percent compared to the same period last year. However, uncertainty whether CNMI businesses will still have access to some 12,000 foreign workers remains, as the U.S. Labor secretary has yet to decide whether to extend the transitional CW program beyond Dec. 31, 2014.
The Department of Public Works, for example, have already issued a request for proposals for a Saipan-Tinian route ferry service feasibility study.
The government seeks out qualified firms to examine and prepare an economic feasibility of establishing and developing a publicly owned and privately operated auto-passenger ferry service between Saipan and Tinian.
The project funding limit authorized by the Federal Highway Administration is $170,000 unless the CNMI government has identified additional funding. Bids should be submitted by Sept. 20.
This comes shortly after the Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority awarded a contract to Ontario, Canada-based Transit Consulting Network to do a feasibility study on operating fixed-flex route and paratransit systems in the CNMI.
Transit Consulting Network officials made a presentation to lawmakers on Friday.
“We are looking forward to this feasibility study,” said House Public Utilities, Transportation and Communications Committee chair Rep. Larry Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan).
The study objective is to determine whether—under what conditions and at what cost—public transportation can be introduced, operated, and sustained on Saipan and, eventually, on Rota and Tinian.
The administration, again through DPW, also released an invitation for bids for the repair and renovation of a proposed Garapan public market.
Department of Lands and Natural Resources Secretary Arnold Palacios said earlier that the total project cost could reach $2 million.
Through the Commonwealth Development Authority, the government has also issued an RFP for qualified firms interested in serving as underwriter for a pension obligation bond.
This comes weeks after the governor signed into law an up-to-$300-million pension obligation bond, to fund the government’s over $320 million debt with the NMI Retirement Fund.
DPW Secretary Martin Sablan told Saipan Tribune that that Cross Island Road Phase II-B (Isa Drive) project has started after being snagged by procurement protest and appeal.
Sablan said DPW will also be holding a groundbreaking ceremony for the Beach Road/Tun Segundo traffic signal system in Chalan Kanoa this week.
The government, through the Department of Public Lands, also received proposals from on-island and off-island investors willing to develop new hotels on three public lands in Marpi and San Antonio.
The governor said development of new hotels will address ongoing room shortage buoyed by increase in tourist arrivals at a time when hundreds of previously available hotel rooms are no longer available.
Government-initiated projects have also been complemented by private sector construction projects such as the ones in the tourist district of Garapan.