The CNMI is at the crossroads of deciding whether to embrace a mega-investment today and begin the urgent journey to pull itself out of the deepening financial disaster, or ignore it altogether and sink into the abysmal nether world of bankruptcy and mediocrity.
It’s almost too good to be true, delving into the combined projects of Green Globe and Agility to prepare the CNMI to gradually exit its fiscal colossus and begin the task of forging stronger economic pillars for its people.
The combined sum of the investment now sitting in the horizon totals $800 million. One aspect deals with wind turbine-powered electrical system. The new energy system would enable the firm to deliver to CUC $.20 per kilowatt-hour. To ensure lower utility rates, the entire CUC system needs to be privatized. In addition, a renewable energy solution for Rota is included so that there’s uniformity in power rates for all three inhabited islands.
The cost is around $300 million at no cost to the CNMI. It would definitely reset the button to revive business expansion, new business startups, increase business volumes for grocery stores, office and house rentals and more money circling in the economy because our people will once again be able to find meaningful employment.
The other side of the project is “ship repair and building” facility, a major shipyard that would be built right on U.S. soil. Its creation sets the CNMI to service the entire U.S. Navy fleet in the Asia-Pacific region, in addition to building private ships boasting U.S. hull requirements from nearby Asian countries.
The ship repair project alone would bring in some 800 jobs that pays federal minimum wage of $7.50 an hour or more. The windmill part of the plan would need some 160 to 200 employees. Logistics alone for either project entails a lot of work, i.e., moving equipment and various supplies and materials to Tinian for the emplacement of the windmills, among others. Aren’t we struggling with some 6,000 unemployed people right here at home?
The credibility of the firms is indisputable anywhere in the global village. For instance, Agility is a publicly traded company and one of the world’s leading providers of integrated logistics, with close to $6 billion in annual revenues and more than 22,000 employees in 550 offices across 100 countries.
These projects would give the CNMI the grand opportunity to resuscitate investments, place the islands on the global map by embracing the project, and attract other major investors to make these isles their home. Remember when the apparel industry used to rake in some $1.2 billion annually? This investment is even more powerful and influential the world over and a permanent investment that sets up the CNMI to engage in real economic diversification.
The desire by Green Globe for the privatization of CUC is simple: It’s the only way its planned venture would be able to see positive return on investment and the unfettered ability to immediately bring in a highly reputable firm to hook up the old system to the wind power electrical system from Tinian.
Eventually, the current system would be moved and readied as a backup system when the island is hit by a superstorm. Eventually, the entire power system (Tinian and Saipan) would be powered by windmill. This power system is soon to become the sole source of power generation in the State of Texas. It means it’s a proven as an alternative source of energy that is far more inexpensive than fossil fuel and solar energy.
The ship repair and building facility is a huge investment in itself that would play a major role in supporting our country’s Asia-Pacific security posture. There are news accounts of the U.S. Navy increasing its battle-ready fleet in the region. It is too costly sailing it to shipyards in the U.S. mainland, turning the planned facility here a key player in the upgrade of U.S. naval ships. It translates into a permanent profitable venture satisfying our economic needs and the ability of our U.S. Navy’s need of ship repair throughout the year.
Nearby Japanese and Asian commercial shipping industries would explore why the huge shipyard repair and building facility here. For all we know, they may be interested in placing orders for new ships to replace their aging fleet or have their old ones repaired right in the CNMI. The opportunities for business expansion is far wider than what we’ve seen here since the dust of WWII settled more than 60 years ago. Essentially, it’s an investment that offers stronger economic base and diversification.
Training programs would be set up with NMC and a vocational school here to prepare employees in the various skills involved in ship repair and building. Those who complete their training would be certified by the U.S. Department of Labor. It opens up more opportunities for skilled workers who may have to relocate elsewhere by necessity.
So why am I pushing for the generosity of leadership on this project? It’s our economic salvation where we literally take the bull by the horn to lure in stronger and more permanent investments so we could do away with bankruptcy ASAP. When the two projects are accepted and take off, we could sit back and breathe a sigh of relief for we would have set some powerful economic growth in motion unseen here in our developmental history.
It sets the CNMI to bringing in more revenues annually. We would be ready to do away with the 25 percent cut in retirees’ pay and pay for the cost of basic public services for our people. Money problems for education, retirement fund, and medical referral will become non-issues, including a bond flotation that would fade in our rearview mirror.
The economic doldrums has basically knocked us off our feet. It need not be this way. But it’s all in the palm of our hands to make a real difference in rebuilding an economically prosperous archipelago. We owe it to ourselves and posterity.
Our people would have given us our crown jewel of achievement for being able to see beyond the years. I see a rare opportunity to help revive the needle of economic growth in the mega-investment I’ve just explained. It’s the only sure path to pulling ourselves out of the mud of uncertainty where investment literally stopped since 2005. Let’s join hands and do something on rock solid foundation marching to the even playing field of economic prosperity. Si Yuus Ma`ase`!