The Marianas Marine Management, Inc., a locally-owned corporation seeking to operate Managaha Island, has prodded the Division of Procurement and Supply to force the Board of Public Lands to decide on the next concessionaire of the popular tourist destination based on proposals previously submitted to BPL.
In a protest lodged January 12, MMM, through its legal counsel Jesus C. Borja, asked the procurement and supply division to stop BPL from its plan to seek fresh proposals to develop Managaha, a tiny island west of Saipan.
MMM said the next operator of Managaha should be selected based on the RFP issued in August, prior to the enactment of a controversial law giving preference to corporations and individuals of NMI descent to develop the island for commercial purposes.
The company, whose incorporators include a son of Gov. Pedro P. Tenorio and political supporters, argued that BPL’s plan to re-solicit proposals would be in violation of procurement regulations.
“MMM protests the Board’s failure to follow the regulations,” said Borja’s letter to Herman S. Sablan, division director, “The Board’s action in this whole matter leave the impression that it either does not know what it is doing, or else, it knows what it is doing but has decided to do its own thing despite the existence of the regulations.”
It added that since the policy-making body does not have its own procurement regulations, it is covered by existing regulations that apply to all government agencies.
After the Legislature overrode the governor’s veto on a measure giving preferential treatment to locals, BPL said it would issue a new RFP to accommodate the law and draw more participants in the development of CNMI’s biggest tourism project ever.
But BPL Chair Tomas B. Aldan said in a letter to MMM that since there is no statute that prescribes whether the board must follow the CNMI procurement procedure, the law creating the policy-making body sets out guidelines how it will dispose of public lands.
This means that BPL will proceed with solicitation of new proposals once the Division of Public Lands and the board have finalized the details for the Managaha RFP.
“With Public Law 11-48 providing preferential treatment to persons or corporations of Northern Marianas descent in the bidding process for the Managaha Island concession, the Board believed it prudent – and only fair – if other Northern Marianas descent corporation(s) were given the opportunity to submit competitive proposals,”
Aldan wrote to MMM.
Last August, six companies, including two local corporations, have submitted proposals to the board seeking rights to operate the premier tourist destination in CNMI whose potential revenue could reach up to $25 million annually.
Others competing for the multi-million lease contract are Pacific Development Inc., Saipan Marine Tours, Robert J. Emmett, Managaha Island Trust Corporation, and Tasi Tours, the current lease holder.