The lease extension request of a private telecommunications company was approved in a joint session at the House chamber on Capital Hill yesterday, with only one opposing it
The lease extension request of 15 years for Pacific Telecom’s lots in As Gonno, Chacha, and Garapan finally obtained legislative approval after the House Natural Resources Committee led by Rep. Alice Igitol (R-Saipan) rejected the initial proposal. PTI is the old company name of what is now known as IT&E.
According to the CNMI Constitution, the Legislature may entertain a company’s request to extend a public land lease up to 15 years after the initial 25-year maximum term is completed.
PTI’s 25-year lease on the three properties is already finished and the company asked the Legislature’s permission for a 15-year extension.
Joint Resolution 20-04, which Igitol also introduced, garnered near-unanimous approval.
House members voted 18-1 in support of the resolution while the Senate voted 8-0 in support. Rep. Blas Jonathan “BJ” Attao (Ind-Saipan) and Sen. Justo Quitugua (Ind-Saipan) were absent from the joint session.
Rep. Donald Barcinas (R-Saipan) told Saipan Tribune yesterday that he voted against the passage of the resolution because he feels that the CNMI could have gotten more out of the deal.
“I am not satisfied,” he said bluntly when asked yesterday. “[I am] not satisfied with the terms of the lease [and] the amounts [the company should pay] for the lease rental. I don’t think it is in the best interest for the Northern Marianas descents who own the land,” he said, adding that agreement was rushed.
He stated that he wanted “more time” to further review the lease to come up with the better land value and the “best benefit for the people of the Commonwealth.”
“I don’t believe that there has been [enough] studies on the [value of the lots],” said Barcinas.
Igitol had amended the joint resolution, reflecting the price increase in respect to the appraisal report. Chacha was amended to $8,222 per square meter, As Gonno to $9,720 per square meter, and Garapan to $12,360 per square meter.
A third-party company hired by Pacific Telecom in late May 2018 to appraise the values of the properties had said that the value of the lots in Chacha, As Gonno, and Garapan have all risen, compared to the previous 2015-2016 appraisal.
According to the new appraisal, the Chacha lot increased in value from $75,000 to $137,000 per annum—an increase of $62,000.
The As Gonno lot saw a $57,000-increase, from the 2016 appraisal of $105,000 to the $162,000 per annum appraisal in 2018.
The Garapan lot saw a $22,000-increase, from a 2015 appraisal of $184,000 to the $206,000 per annum appraisal in 2018.