Representing the stance of the Saipan municipal government, Mayor David M. Apatang has come squarely behind a bill that proposes to extend public land leases to a maximum of 75 years.
Despite the opposition of the Northern Marianas Descent Corp., which supports the status quo, Apatang said Thursday that he fully supports Senate Bill 20-35, which was introduced by Senate President Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan).
The law currently allows public land leases of up to 40 years. Many companies and hotels in the CNMI would soon max out their leases, which will be up for bidding in the next few years.
Apatang feels that because these hotels and companies have contributed a lot to the CNMI economy, they deserve a chance to further solidify their existing assets, be given more time to re-invest in their properties and recoup their investments.
It was earlier reported that the NMDC came to an agreement that 40 years is a lot of time for companies and hotels to solidify their assets and offer a proposal that can compete with potential investors.
According to public comments submitted by the Saipan Mayor’s Office to the group, longer leases on public lands may benefit the economy. “After all, our CNMI economic and financial health depends largely on outside forces…” the comments stated.
The municipality believes that a positive impact could come from more than just extending land leases. “If bringing back he good times and opening our doors to good investment and developments in our CNMI is our target goal, then we have to look beyond the terms of public land leases,” the comments stated.
The municipality suggests that, on top of land leases, incentives for businesses should also be considered.