The Department of Public Lands has called the Legislature out, saying the latter negotiated with a private telecommunications company on the extensions of their lots in As Gonno, Garapan, and Chacha without the department’s involvement.
In a letter to House Committee on Natural Resources chair Rep. Alice Igitol (R-Saipan) dated May 18, 2018, DPL Secretary Marianne Teregeyo said that in PTI’s request for extension, the Legislature negotiated for new terms “directly with the current lessee.” PTI is the old name of IT&E.
“It appears that PTI agreed to pay increased rent during the renewal period, consistent with new appraisals of the properties,” Teregeyo wrote. She added that the “process established under Commonwealth law” typically set renewals or extensions as an increase in the length of the leases but not as a means to “alter the terms” of the lease.
“If the Legislature disagrees with granting such extension or renewal, the Legislature may reject the extension or renewal and DPL will begin the process of entering into a new lease for the subject property,” Teregeyo wrote.
“In this situation, the Legislature decided to negotiate for new terms directly with the current lessee, and without the involvement of DPL,” said Teregeyo.
According to documents obtained by Saipan Tribune, Igitol, in a letter dated May 29, 2018, denied the claims of negotiating without the involvement of DPL.
“We wish to set the record straight. The Legislature did not negotiate new lease terms with PTI. The Legislature simply requested PTI to provide a new appraisal report. The incorporated higher rental rates are PTI’s decision [and was made] without the Legislature’s involvement,” Igitol wrote to Teregeyo.
Igitol’s committee on May 8, 2018, rejected the proposed lease renewals as proposed by DPL, which included an appraisal report done back in 2015.
The committee’s concern was that the value of the properties under PTI has risen substantially since 2015, urging the committee to request for a new appraisal report.