Sens. Paul A. Manglona (Ind-Rota) and Edith E. DeLeon Guerrero (D-Saipan) have urged the Senate leadership to act on their two legislations that they say will address the financial concerns surrounding Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC’s casino, which they said is in a constant state of both financial and physical deterioration.
Manglona and DeLeon Guerrero wrote a joint letter last week to Senate President Jude U. Hofschneider, expressing concern over the apparent lack of action and urgency to act on their Senate Bill 22-23 and Senate Joint Resolution 22-01. As of press time yesterday, Saipan Tribune was still waiting for comments from Hofschneider.
The senators said the intent and provisions of the two legislations outline the steps needed to resolve the casino’s financial quagmire.
Senate Bill 22-23 seeks to authorize the Commonwealth Lottery Commission to issue a second casino license in the event that IPI’s exclusive casino license is revoked by the Commonwealth Casino Commission.
Senate Joint Resolution 22-01 will request Gov. Ralph DLG Torres to instruct the CNMI representative on the Development Plan Advisory Committee to immediately provide a report to the Legislature on the casino projects.
The senators introduced Senate Bill 22-23 last Feb. 11; it was referred to the Senate Committee on Fiscal Affairs.
They introduced Joint Resolution 22-01 last March 11.
Manglona and DeLeon Guerrero stated in the letter that IPI acting chief executive officer Ray N. Yumul wrote the Legislature last Feb. 9, stating several requests and recommendations for assistance to IPI.
The Commonwealth Casino Commission then suspended IPI’s license on April 22 and imposed various fines due to the company’s inability to pay all obligations in a timely manner.
The senators also noted that U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona recently entered a $5.91 million default judgment against IPI in favor of seven Chinese construction workers who were subjected to forced labor while working on IPI’s casino/resort project in Garapan.
They said several months have passed since their legislations were introduced as well as since Yumul’s letter was sent to the Legislature.
The senators said people must be reminded of IPI’s growing debts: $400,000 annually in DPAC fees; $3 million annually in CCC regulatory fee; $57 million in Community Benefit Fund; $15.5 million in annual casino license fee; $800,000 in future wages via escrow; $9.4 million in Business Gross Revenue Tax; and other outstanding liabilities and fees including back wages.
Manglona and DeLeon Guerrero said they are hoping the Senate can come together to establish a plan to respond to Yumul’s letter and to lead in addressing the needs of this casino industry.
The senators said IPI must address all complaints of unpaid wages, labor abuses, substandard staff housing, unpaid contractors, and other problems with workers and the construction of its gaming facility.