Trustees of the Marianas Public Land Trust are ready to meet with representatives of the Executive Branch and Legislature to begin negotiations on the Torres administration’s request for a $15-million line of credit to secure funds to pay its bond obligations and the Settlement Fund.
MPLT, through acting MPLT chair Maria Frica T. Pangelinan, sent a letter to the two parties that will be involved in the negotiations.
The letter was sent yesterday after the MPLT’s meeting at their office on Capital Hill. It was addressed to House Speaker Blas Jonathan T. Attao (R-Saipan) and Finance Secretary David Atalig with copies also sent to Attorney General Edward Manibusan, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, and the MPLT trustees.
“This is to inform you that the trustees are ready to meet with you and your authorized personnel and/or staff from the Department of Finance/administration and Legislature on the potential terms and conditions for the revised [LOC] of $15 million,” said Pangelinan, a former senator in the 15th Legislature.
“The trustees met today [Monday], June 24, and received the report from the MPLT Ad Hoc Committee on the [LOC]. The committee had several recommendations and is now ready to work with you to review these terms and conditions,” the letter adds.
Pangelinan told Saipan Tribune, in an interview, that their move is part of the ongoing discussions between the trustees and other involved parties on Torres’ LOC request. “We are now prepared to meet with the other negotiating parties and see what would come out of the discussions, hopefully with all the parties agreeing it will be to the best interest of the CNMI government and protects the trustees with their fiduciary duties.”
She clarified that the meeting does not mean that MPLT had already approved the governor’s request. “This is just a working group with the authorized individuals to start the negotiating process based on the trustees’ due diligence and report, and other matters that would be necessary for us to comply as mandated in the [CNMI] Constitution.”
Manibusan already issued an opinion that the LOC is considered a “public debt.”
Pangelinan added that the decision of the MPLT trustees will all depend on the outcome of the meeting. “It will depend on the negotiations that will take place with the authorized individuals that would be involved in the agreement.”
“It would take the Legislature, the administration, and the trustees—all three [parties] would have to agree. If not, then that means we would come to [a decision] of not granting the request. Timing is of the importance because we know the government needs this money.”