Finance Secretary Larrisa Larson believes this is the right time for the CNMI to open up to other revenue sources and study the possibility of new attractions for tourists to come to the islands.
Larson cited the example of MP Holdings, one of the latest business ventures on Saipan, which kicked off its operation last week with its Saipan Vegas Golf Resort & Slot Club e-gaming facility.
The company also took over the operations of the Saipan Country Club, one of the first golf courses in the CNMI. MP Holdings turned the building where the former Fashion Outlet was located into an e-gaming facility.
“The administration and Finance welcome every new source of revenue for the government. Investments like this provide more cash flow and it improves our position in delivering basic services to the people,” said Larson.
“We have to look at all areas where we can earn revenue. We’ve already learned from prior experience, don’t put all your eggs in one basket, [so] we must not put all our trust in only one industry.”
She added that the government should explore every opportunity and the kind of economic activity where it would gain something.
Saipan Vegas would be paying taxes under the e-gaming category, which is separate from the ones collected from casino gaming.
“They [casino gaming and e-gaming] have their own sets of rules and regulations. But they are somewhat similar. [MP Holdings] would pay their taxes just like the other [businesses in the CNMI],” said Larson.
Standard business revenue, wages and salaries for their employees, and jackpot gaming are the taxes that would be collected from the new business. They would also pay the hotel occupancy tax once their 50-room lodging opens this June.
Lt. Gov. Victor B. Hocog also welcomed the new attraction and the hotel that’s being developed. MP Holdings is building a 50-room hotel using pre-fabricated materials like 20-foot containers in the 200,000 square-meter property near McDonald’s on Middle Road.
“Everything is built in, this is the good thing with this type of infrastructure especially now that we have a bit of shortage in laborers and [construction] materials. It is just a matter of ensuring the connectivity for the function and amenities for every room.”
“One of our concerns in the sewage system. We want it to be not a health hazard for the community and their guests.”
The nine-hole golf course, e-gaming facility, and the soon-to-open hotel are part of MP Holdings’ mini-integrated resort development. They plan to add another 50 rooms, and are also looking into expanding the golf course and other amenities.
The overall cost of MP Holdings’ development is $2 million. They are looking to build a driving range and putting greens, while thinking of adding nine more holes at the golf course but it depends if they could acquire more land.