A Saipan senator wants earnings from public land leases to be disbursed directly to people of Northern Marianas descent in the regularly scheduled payments.
Sen. Luis Crisostimo has authored a legislative initiative that would amend Article XI Section 6(d) of the CNMI Constitution. It would require the Marianas Public Land Trust to disburse earnings from MPLT investments to individuals of NMI descent.
Currently, the Constitution tasks the Marianas Public Lands Authority to manage leases of public lands on behalf of the people of Northern Marianas descent. After deducting administrative costs from the collected fees, MPLA transfers the balance to the Marianas Public Land Trust. MPLT then invests the money. Income earned from those investments is transferred to the general fund for appropriation by the Legislature.
According to Senate Legislative Initiative 15-05, proceeds from public land leases should directly benefit the indigenous people of the CNMI.
“However, the present method of transferring earnings from the investments of MPLT into the general fund of the Commonwealth benefits not only the people of NMI descent but also people who are not of NMI descent,” the initiative stated. “The purpose of this initiative is to amend the Constitution to establish a royalty account so that those of NMI descent may receive regularly scheduled payments on the proceeds from public land leases.”
The initiative seeks to require MPLT to establish an account to which 75 percent of the interest accrued on trust proceeds should be transferred. The trustees may retain the amount necessary to meet reasonable expenses of administration.
The balance of the account should be disbursed equally among the people of NMI descent through annual payments, the initiative proposes.