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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Flashback — Dec. 2005-Dec. 2007

December 4, 2005

Japanese tourist arrivals fall 29 pct.

Tourist arrivals from Japan further slid down registering a 29-percent drop in November, a month after Japan Airlines had totally terminated its flights to the CNMI. Statistics from the Marianas Visitors Authority showed there were only 21,602 Japanese who visited the Commonwealth last month. During the same month last year, there were 30,454 Japanese visitors. Authorities earlier projected that tourist arrivals from Japan would dramatically drop in view of JAL’s pullout from the CNMI on Oct. 4. JAL, which provided direct flights to Saipan from Tokyo and Osaka, used to bring some 155,000 passengers from Japan a year.

Retired teacher ventures into aquaculture

Since June this year, Gus Flores has been busy with his newly discovered hobby: growing tilapia right in the backyard of his home in Fina Sisu. “This is my first time to do this. I’m quite excited,” said Flores, a retired teacher from William S. Reyes Elementary School. After more than two decades in the teaching profession, Flores retired in 1995, giving him more time to do what he has been wanting to do: spend more time at his farm. Retirement years for him have been truly easy and comfortable, but he discovered that he is happier whenever he engages in projects.

December 4, 2006

Villagomez admits hard time in filling up CUC board

Acting governor Timothy P. Villagomez said the administration has been having a hard time filling up the Commonwealth Utilities Corp.’s advisory board. Villagomez said they are putting in names for the CUC board, but some of their nominees rejected the appointment. “The Mayor of Tinian submitted a nomination and at the same time while we were doing together with the Public Utilities Commission…the PUC board as well. Some wanted to be in the PUC board, no one in the advisory board,” the acting governor told Saipan Tribune in an interview. Villagomez said they have the names and everything and that they just hope that people are going to accept the position.

Senate wants AG to stand in for PUC

The Senate wants the attorney general to act as the Public Utilities Commission while the new regulatory agency is being formed. The Upper House late last week passed Senate Bill 15-65, which proposes to allow the attorney general to fulfill some of the functions of the PUC until the first three commissioners have been appointed and confirmed. According to the bill, the attorney general may temporarily perform the duties of the former Commonwealth Telecommunications Commission, which was abolished with the PUC Act was enacted.

December 4, 2007

Number of NCLEX takers plummet

Since Filipino nurses began taking the National Council Licensure Examination in their home country in August this year, the CNMI’s share in the NCLEX market has dropped drastically to 50 percent or even less. According to Dianne Villagomez of Pearson Professional Center, which administers the NCLEX on Saipan, the number of Filipino nurses who take the test on the island is down to about half the number they used to get. “It is less but we’re still hoping it will pick up soon,” she said yesterday.

HUD questions CNMI’s bidding preference law

A federal agency has raised concern that a CNMI statute granting bidding preference to local businesses is discriminatory and may jeopardize the release of federal aid to the local government. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development notes that its procurement regulations require grant recipients to consider price in awarding contracts. But under Public Law 15-95, the CNMI government can legally choose a U.S. citizen-owned bidder over a non-U.S. citizen, regardless of amount. This preference applies to contracts amounting to $500,000 or less. “I am reading the law to mean that if a U.S. citizen-owned business bids $400,000 on a contract and a non-U.S. citizen-owned business bids $300,000 on a contract and both businesses are determined to be equally qualified in procurement process, the CNMI will award the $400,000 bid,” noted Rebecca Borja, community planning and development representative at the HUD-Hawaii office.

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