Rep. Ivan A. Blanco (R-Saipan) said the CNMI Legislature would continue to monitor its counterpart in Guam about a proposal to impose additional taxes on fuel that passes through Guam on its way to Saipan.
Sen. Telena C. Nelson’s Bill 257-34, co-authored by Sens. Thomas C. Ada and Dennis G. Rodriguez Jr., aims to eliminate tax exemptions on transshipped fuel that goes through the port of Guam.
Blanco said the 34th Guam Legislature, led by Speaker Benjamin J.F. Cruz, has not yet answered the letter he sent expressing concern about what the bill is proposing. “The bill was introduced but not yet assigned to a committee. [But] we’ll keep an eye out.”
“The Guam Legislature has not yet answered our letter. It [the bill] has not been assigned, so perhaps it was dead upon introduction,” added Blanco, who echoed the same concerns raised by the nine leaders of the Micronesian Islands Forum.
The Association of Pacific Islands Legislature also sent a separate letter about the bill. Guam is a member of both MIF and APIL.
Transshipped fuel via Guam—that heads to CNMI ports (Saipan, Tinian, and Rota), the Federated States of Micronesia (Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap), Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands—has been tax exempt for three decades.
Imposing additional taxes on transshipped fuel would further increase its price once it reaches its destination, which could force petroleum distributors on each island nation to pass it to consumers.
Blanco, who is seeking re-election for one of the six seats at stake in Precinct 3, said the bill not being assigned yet to a committee is some sort of good news.
“I also understand that a bill, a few years back, was also introduced and it died in the Guam Legislature. So, I’m putting a lot of my faith on Speaker Cruz to reconsider entertaining it,” he added.
He pointed out that the bill would have a great impact on the fragile economies of the CNMI, FSM, RMI, and Palau. “It is going to adversely affect everybody in the region.”