A retreat to regroup!


Other than deeply institutionalized fear of Him—a relationship founded on trust rather than fear—I fear nothing for there’s nothing to fear! Indeed, human frailties allow for errors; but need we hone it into a conundrum?

It is said that tourism is the economic mainstay here. Guam has moved into creating an “ideal” place under the sun some 50 years from now. What about the CNMI?

Well, if the future is today then we’re stuck in the filthy mud puddle of exhaustion and disorientation. Here are some heavy indicators: Huge cancellations of visitors of more than 7,000, the domino effect of business slowing down and CUC’s new start before it could recoup expenses. Revenue generation is adversely affected for this fiscal year!

Against the obvious, would retirees still get paid? I mean we can’t even clear more than $30 million in debts with CUC; how do we clear new obligations?

Immigration: There’s federal requirement to replace all non-citizens with citizens by 2019. Is this a realistic target? How does this federal policy help the NMI as it moves to implement planned development projects ahead? Or did we miss the boat on this score once more?

Tourism: In other words, there’s the assertion that we need 2,000-3,000 more hotel rooms. It means bringing in about 4,500 foreign workers to meet labor requirements right off the bat. How do we navigate it versus federal mandate that we clear the books four years from now? It doesn’t grant anybody on either side a clear view how this should be navigated.

Review: Have we even critically reviewed whether the tourism sector is a plus for the local economy? I mean, since 1968 we’ve been mowed down by what’s known as “coupon” (vertical termination) where everything is bought at home before boarding the plane for the islands. How much has it helped local vendors here or isn’t this conduct of business one of complete alienation of the host?

How many local restaurants do you see in the hotel district? Can MVA ably navigate explanation of this issue beyond quick trumpeting the next occupancy rate? We need to address this concern without critical fiat but more a matter of exploring, in realistic fashion, if the industry is really of help from direct and indirect benefits to local entrepreneurship.

The issue to pull back the reins of our bull has its own merits too. Why build facilities when the local work force can’t meet labor requirements? Whose needs would be met under this scenario, e.g., the NMI or mostly investors? This approach isn’t partnership but a forced agenda we often treat with acquiescence. It doesn’t make sense, does it?

Unrealistic option: The replacement of 19,000 foreign workers is difficult. The indigenous folks need to prop up nocturnal activities to come up with 4,750 babies per year by 2019. The alternative may be more realistic transition period of 10-20 years. Those already qualified for citizenship should be accommodated to lessen the burden. It’s the realistic way to address the issue. After all, we need workers!

Delegate Kilili has this issue to discuss with the elected elite here. He should head the group in consultation with the administration. Hope the discussion is fruitful before the eleventh hour takes us into the sunset like Soudelor did a month ago.

Sleepwalking: Legislators in charge of health matters can’t sleepwalk nor treat your role as salutary and untethered. There are mounting concerns of the indigenous people sliding into adult onset diabetes and the consequence of poor health habits. Your list should include dealing with the resurgence of methamphetamine, heart ailments, kidney failure, oral cancer, and inability of social and health services to reach out to community folks who really need help.

The foregoing are more the reasons why the CHCC board must be granted the authority to oversee the performance of the CEO. It involves the expenditure of public funds that is more the reason to allow the board to ensure public funds are spent responsibly. The House HEW troops donning the halo of “ke sera” isn’t the way to resolve this issue either. Hence, I will keep a sturdy eye what happens next.

People responsible for education should probe the failure rate at NMC of local high school students, 90 percent of which had to take remedial courses for failing the exam. I understand the two institutions have started meeting to reconcile the flaws either in the test model NMC uses that doesn’t take into account what PSS implements instruction-wise.

The largest issue is the committee that deals with the local economy. The honeymoon has long faded in your rearview mirror. Now, let’s see how you navigate the treacherous seas of an additional revenue generation loss for the balance of the year. It would be one vicious chase for more pennies, nickels, and dimes. Are you up to the job?

Hope: The Saipan Chamber of Commerce has a junior entrepreneurship program of sort comprised of young college grads preparing for active participation in boosting private industries’ role. This is the most innovative program I’ve heard since after WWII. It’s one tough sailing but a darn good beginning, refocusing growth mostly on private industries.

Difficult as it may be in that in involves a lengthy process, it’s a good start, conditioning returning scholars that their holy grail is in private industries, not another drone government career. I’m tickled to death by the innovative aspect of the program ably seeing the dire need to boost the private sector expansion.

It’s the only way to spur new revenues for a system that has had bankruptcy as a daily prayer.

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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