The $14B challenge


The combined loss of $14 billion from the local economy recently is quite a huge sum of money to dismiss casually and not when considered from its economic implications. It spells trouble when we’re already some $31 million into deficit spending and mounting.

Understood the first half was the result of the dip of the local economy from the super storm that would take time to recover. The other is the permanent departure of Nippon investments from the islands.

This much money is no longer here for recycling so it generates more revenues for the NMI. Furthermore, it could very well compromise any plans to expand private industries and cuts on funds for services.

The emergence of a highly volatile financial and economic landscape from Nippon investment exit makes it mandatory that the situation is monitored critically. It boils down to the quality of life here.

Petrifying the implication of the latter decision that would slowly translate into serious economic contraction. How do we replace this loss other than wishful thinking in the la la land of mañana?

Would anyone dare promote the “ignorant but expensive” alternative like raising more taxes to make up for this loss? This route would be devastating especially for small businesses and the 15,000 employees earning poverty income level today.

On both Guam and the NMI Japanese-owned hotels and large investments have been sold to others. One wonders if this is permanent “sayonara” as they take their luggage to airplanes.

Here, it is rumored that the loss is rooted in offensive adolescent conversations from NMI officials uttered against major Nippon investors. It was local attitude taken to a new height of sheer intransigent arrogance gift-wrapped in immaturity.

Thus, the conversation we had with major investors turned sour as to prompt their leaving permanently. Is there a need to offend faithful friends who provided both wealth and innovation to help the NMI attain economic prosperity?

Beyond Nippon investments is there anything solid in the horizon to replace the huge investment exit and financial void? It’s $14 billion, people!

Ke sera: Or maybe things are far better off in terms of our financial posture thus the apparent ignorance wrapped in adolescent arrogance.

But two significant indicators seem to compromise assumptions of financial security: departure of major Nippon investors and the drop in the economy from the devastation of a super storm. The combined phenomena indicate the cumulative loss of about $14 billion.

Indeed, we once had investment-led growth that took a painful shift when the same investments slowly exited the islands leaving behind mediocre consumption and services. Nippon investment is gone. It’s basically history!

Numbers on this score matters to me in that it determines quality of life in these isles. Bankruptcy riding atop fragile island economic foundation isn’t an issue to chance at all. But we conveniently ignored it with the usual mañana.

The huge dip is a definite lesson that no matter our historically innovative or powerful investments may have been we’re not guaranteed immortality. As such we must retreat and seriously reassess strengthening relations with key investors.

Again, no one is guaranteed immortality! Apparently, we don’t even have the depth of perception to notice significant revenue losses so we reset and save the NMI from total economic ruination.

Too big: We had a robust economy and boasted it’s “too big to fail? It did! Was the investment loss related to business management or more so other vital issues we rendered arrogance in the process? It had to be our immaturity handling casual or formal discourse where we simply ignored the importance of strengthening relationships with lasting partners.

Is the elected elite wary of this woefully troubling shift on investments? What’s your interpretation of their economic implications and is there anything under your sleeves that could realistically cushion major financial losses to the tune of $14 billion?

Is the NMI fiscally robust with a strong reserve for its needs? Aren’t we already into deficit spending with several agencies wobbling in the filthy swamp of underfunding? Isn’t this indicative of fund shortage?

The seesaw swing of the economy offers a micro view of the painful process the NMI must make rebalancing what’s left of its economy if any.

With self-inflicted ignorance is there a way out of the $14-billion loss?

Exclusion:The exclusion of the NMI on H-2B workers would impact heavily on basically everything here from workers to disruption of services at all levels.

It’s a Trump policy whether we like or loathe him. He doesn’t show any battle fatigue at all neither is his democratic and media enemies.

For now, it would be a lively and rambunctious two years ahead. His immigration concerns at the southern border overwhelms our little and irrelevant H-2B visa.

John S. Del Rosario Jr. | Contributing Author
John DelRosario Jr. is a former publisher of the Saipan Tribune and a former secretary of the Department of Public Lands.
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