Progress in the construction of the hotel portion of the Imperial Pacific Resort moved by only 1 percent since Imperial Pacific International (CNM) LLC last reported on the matter.
This is based on the overall construction of the hotel portion of the initial gaming facility, according to Eric Poon, IPI vice president for construction during last Tuesday’s Commonwealth Casino Commission meeting at the Joeten-Kiyu Public Library.
When asked how he came up with the 69-percent completion rate, on the methods used in order to come up with the percentage (“Is it 69 percent as budgeted or is it the physical structure that’s 69 percent complete?” asked CCC commissioner Alvaro Santos), Poon said: “The budget, the percentage is based on the construction…only physical.”
“The work that we have done so far—the foundation and basic infrastructure, along with the calculations and schedule of our project—we don’t have a special tool to calculate, unless I actually talk to my team,” Poon added.
CCC executive director Edward Deleon Guerrero, in an interview, said the commission just wanted to know the meaning of the 69-percent completion rate.
“We noticed that they keep saying it is 69-percent complete. And we want to know what they mean by that. What is that 69-percent rate? Is it facility wise or funding wise? Is it 69 percent ready for the hotel opening or when it is expected to open if it’s only 69 percent complete? If they would know, how much money is needed to finish the project?” They would have an idea how much [time and money] will be needed,” added Deleon Guerrero.
He said that they also wanted to get a copy of IPI’s letter of extension request to the CNMI Lottery Commission and the CCC would be present when they meet anytime next week. The Lottery Commission was supposed to meet yesterday.
“We’ll be present to hear out what their [IPI] request. We’re under one government and at the end of the day we want to make sure the CNMI is well served,” said Deleon Guerrero.
Poon also informed the commission that their current construction is focused on three areas: the resort hotel, the north courtyard or the front landscape, and the hotel tower and other façade installations.
“Everything is moving forward and on target to complete by the end of this year. We put in another 10 percent in the resort hotel’s building façade. But for us, this is not fast enough; hopefully we can improve it in the near future,” said Poon.
He added that there’s a total of 1,443 workers and 75 management staff at the construction site last month, where they are finishing up the hotel interior and the main lobby’s stonework on the floor.
Poon said that they are also pushing to address three critical issues: the Casino License Agreement extension package, the external roadwork that they plan to complete by the end of the month, and the installation of the dragon chandelier.
A special team from a Czech Republic-based firm will install the dragon chandelier, which also designed and manufactured the fixture. All the materials and other parts have arrived on Saipan and are already at IPI’s warehouse.
Poon said local contractor M15 Architecture Co. Inc. had been doing all inspection jobs before sending their reports to the Department of Public Works for review and their records. Pacific Rim is the general contractor.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres has expressed concern on the issue that IPI has not yet settled its dues with GPPC, which worked on the electrical and mechanical side of the still to-be-finished hotel.
He said that IPI has settled its dues to the government and it is important for them to do the same with companies that they owe. “Of course, there’s always concern if a company has not been paid or not being paid. I don’t know the entire issue between them but don’t get me wrong, all bills have to be paid.”
“Whatever their relationship is, if it’s before the court or simply stating to go on public record that they are owed and not being paid. At the end of the day, my belief is, if you work, then you have to be paid.”
He cited the case of the government where the money, through the taxes, paid by IPI, are used to fund its various programs. “Our deficit got [down], there’s $80 million in land compensation that we paid about half of that already in terms of settlement and some other issues. In reality, bills have to paid.”
Torres said that he would also review IPI’s extension request. “Our concern is the viability of the industry. Our concern is to make sure the necessary adjustments to finish the hotel.”
“Let’s face it, all of us want to see the project to be finished. But along the way, we want to see that there’s due diligence as to why we’re giving them the extension,” added Torres.
Labor Secretary Vicky Benavente, in a separate interview, said they also monitor all businesses and work sites for any irregularities. “We’re doing inspections and we do monitor businesses, not just IPI.”
She added that her department is also set to meet with Pacific Rim officials to get updates on their concerns and other issues. “We have to look at everything, I also heard undesirable workers that were let go because of their failure for a particular substance test or attendance issues. We have to look at both sides of the issue.”