Debate on disposition of land


I scanned over a news story of legislators all riled up to dismantle DPL as their ultimate contribution in the resolution of controversial land matters. Understandably, land, if you’re reckless, would get the better of your rational judgment.

We no longer could continue yelling “name that tune,” but “change that tune” where you all converge on thoughtful discussions to protect the interest and rights of the indigenous people in the use of their land. Even this score is difficult to define, e.g., “rights and interest.” Is it premised on the highest bidder or shouldn’t this involve the founding of lasting partnership? How should this partnership be founded? Does it involve assimilation of investors into the local community, soliciting participation of permanent host or just trash their involvement?

This aspect in the use of indigenous land for investment purposes was part of my experience as former secretary of DPL. We pushed for Kumho securing lease for the Laulau Bay development. Through Fitial and Inos, it got away with more goodies that left landowners royally screwed at day’s end.

How so? Kumho was granted a $26-million tax break via our infamous QC law, used our land for a $2 million loan from the Micronesian Development Bank to furnish the Laulau hotel, dirt cheap land lease based on raw land, and got away from paying other normal fees. Didn’t Kumho unload its interest in the sale of its development shortly thereafter?

It is for this reason that I’ve advocated a partnership in any and all investments here involving public land. The Japanese came and left, draining the local economy of some $5 billion to $7 billion in money that was in the local economy. Others have come and employed what’s known as “vertical termination,” strictly limiting everything to coupons. It effectively eliminated local participation and any opportunity for increase in our tax base. They repatriated their profits mindless of the fate of the people of these isles.

This condescending attitude is arrogance at its worst. It completely ignored the human side to investments—villagers who had to endure hardship from political decisions they know nothing about since the outset. It’s time to pull our anchor to see how to untangle it from being stuck downstairs forever. It’s either a partnership or no deal. This is where I humbly ask that politicians change their tune over “name that tune.”

If you wish self-education on what a board could easily ignore, ask OPA for a copy of its audit of the land agency before I took over. Should give you a perfect view of abuses even of an independent board. It was hell cleaning the mess that took quite some challenging decisions.

Failure of socialism

I was following the Democratic Party presidential debate, listening intently to Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton slide smoothly into explaining socialism and Denmark. I almost fell into the trap until I read an account by someone, Mikkel Clair Nissen, who actually lives in Denmark.

She wrote, “I am a schoolteacher from Denmark, making about $61,000 a year. We get free education. You don’t have to pay for the doctor, the hospital, and students even get paid to study. It all sounds so great…right?

“The lowest personal income tax in Denmark is a minimum 40 percent. Also, we pay sales tax of 25 percent, and on top of sales tax the government applies further (generally hidden) duties and fees, applied to almost everything, making it really hard for lower-class people to get by, causing them to be deeply dependent on government handouts.

“A gallon of gas is about $10. Tax on a car is about 180 percent, which brings a car valued a bit over $20,000 in the U.S., e.g., Honda Accord, up to an astounding $50,000 in Denmark.

“Denmark is the highest taxed nation in the world—taxed an average of 80 percent of every earned dollar. Caused by excessive taxation. Danes also have the highest private debt in the world. Only few will ever own a house or a car here, banks generally do, hypocritically the very same bankers that the collectivists despise. Anyone who earns over $80,000 annually pays a personal tax of 68 percent. This means that all people with higher earnings have either found ways to evade taxes, or have left the country, often bringing their companies with them, making employment scarcely low.

“Denmark’s suicide rate has averaged 20.8 per 100,000 during the last five decades, with its highest level of 32. Danes are deeply deprived, driven by severe narcissism, and so more than 11 percent of adult Danes—the supposed happiest people in the world—are on antidepressants. Well, of course Danes are happy: they are medicated to be!

“Everyone wants the American dream. In Denmark’s neo-communism, no one will ever own or accomplish anything.”

Why opt for a system that punishes success and rewards collective failure?


That there’s a decision to explore and exploit MPLT funds is a clear admission that revenue generation remains problematic now and for the foreseeable future. Did someone say “self-government”? Doesn’t this require funding services on our own? Must we look across the Pacific Divide once more for additional pennies, nickels and dimes from U.S. mainland taxpayers? Get real, people!

The fiscal crises at home are nearly all self-inflicted. For once in our lifetime it is mandatory that we retreat to reassess spending habit amidst a huge pile of debts. What we owe versus what’s projected for collections are also gulfs apart. It’s a projection, not fish in the boat!

What lies before the elected elite in any effort to rein in unbridled spending is the other side of the coin—health of private industries—as the single venue to place government employees who may have to be released. In brief, private industries can’t fathom anymore than the current number of employees. Quite a dilemma, isn’t it? I challenge folks on imperial Capital Hill to show us some sense of responsible leadership!

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.

Related Posts

Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.