The Department of Public Lands is being requested to provide lawmakers a report on the leases that it has entered into during the last five years.
In a budget hearing last week, DPL Secretary Pedro A. Tenorio said his department will “work on the compiled figures” and send the report to lawmakers.
Rep. Felicidad T. Ogumoro (R-Saipan) requested the report which will also include how much the leases were and how much have been expended from these funds.
Tenorio explained that after an investor pays the lease, the payments are not immediately given to the Marianas Public Land Trust. There has to be an audit first, and after management costs have been deducted, the surplus is then remitted to the MPLT.
Ogumoro earlier questioned the DPL on the MPLT remittances.
Tenorio, however, said the DPL has “records” and it has been “remitting regularly.” He said some $8 million has already been remitted to the MPLT over the last three years.
Aside from the leases, Ogumoro is also requesting a detailed report on the Managaha Island landing fees. The DPL serves as “trustee” of these funds, which are collected from tourist visiting the island.
Tenorio said the DPL will provide a report for 2014 and 2015 regarding the Managaha landing fees.
Ogumoro is a staunch critic of the DPL.
Last week, she issued a statement on a proposed legislation wanting to abolish the DPL and establishing in its place the Marianas Lands Corp. with a board of trustees.
Ogumoro said “since its inception, DPL has been operating and making independent decisions directly related to the management and disposition of public lands–such as public land leases and village homestead development–without the presence, input, advice of, or voting by the Public Lands Advisory Board as required by Public Law 15-2.”
The lawmaker earlier said she is “troubled that DPL has been withholding funds derived from public land leases, which should have been remitted to the Marianas Public Land Trust to invest for the benefit of persons of Northern Marianas descent.”