The House of Representatives unanimously passed yesterday a bill that will create the Commonwealth Economic Development Authority.
After agreeing to some amendments to House Bill 22-21, all 19 representatives voted “yes” to the passage of the legislation. Rep. Christina E. Sablan (D-Saipan) was excused from the session as she is currently in Guam for family medical referral.
After the session, Rep. Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan), who is the author of the bill, thanked his colleagues for their full support. “At the end of the day, both the leadership and the minority…all agreed that the amendments were beneficial to moving this bill forward and…moving the economy of the CNMI forward,” he said. “I think today is proof of that, a testimony to our willingness to move forward for the betterment of the Commonwealth.”
Demapan said CEDA is a critical update to the CNMI’s ability to attract, retain, and expand private sector investment in the CNMI.
The Commonwealth Development Authority’s current mandate does not include a proactive outreach and promotion of the CNMI as a location for private investment. “This bill fixes this,” Demapan said.
Also, under current CNMI laws, no government entity is tasked with business retention and expansion and no centralized agency is responsible for the economic development for the islands and his legislation fixes that.
He said the creation of CEDA establishes a central authority for the pursuit of the CNMI’s economic development priorities and is a step toward modernizing the way in which the CNMI economy grows.
“This is just a first step toward this effort. We have many areas to seek a dramatic readjustment to our governmental system related to economic development, but we cannot achieve the substantial goals we seek without the coordinated and proactive efforts of CEDA,” Demapan said.
In offering floor amendments, Demapan recognized the inputs that have come from Reps. Edwin K. Propst (D-Saipan), Denita K. Yangetmai (D-Saipan), and Celina R. Babauta (D-Saipan).
He said they consolidated all of their amendments.
Rep. Celina Babauta commended Demapan for coming up with the bill and accepting the amendments as proposed. “This is a testimony to the people that we represent that we can consolidate and work together to pass some bills that make common sense and bring that common sense to the government,” Babauta said.
All favored the floor amendments and subsequently voted “yes” to the bill’s passage.
Propst joined Celina Babauta in thanking Demapan for being open and accepting their amendments.
“It really is a great feeling when we’re all in unison and we all can agree and can find compromise in middle ground. So I fully support your bill. And I want to thank you for your kindness and humility,” said Propst.
Yangetmai thanked Demapan for allowing them to collaborate on the bill, that according to her is very important as long it’s for the good of the people of the Commonwealth.
The Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers earlier recommended the transformation of CDA into CEDA. The Saipan Chamber of Commerce also touted the bill as “truly a revenue generating legislation” that will provide the tools and authority to what would become CEDA and realize new diversified investments in the CNMI.