‘Not yet, already’


Our financial posture has dipped by $18 million per the governor’s latest budget submission to the legislature for fiscal year 2020. Nothing unusual. Resources fluctuate up or down.

The decrease was the result of two storms and exit of Nippon investments. The cumulative loss is about $14 billion in economic contraction!

Storm recovery leaves room for rebuilding but the latter is a tough challenge. It deals with investments that quietly left the NMI in recent past.

While assessing investments, Kan Pacific (used to lease Marianas Country Club in Marpi) didn’t submit any interest after it terminated its lease. Now DPL advertises for interested parties to run the facility. Is this indicative of the end of Nippon investment headed into its final stage? Very unsettling!

Jobs and revenues headed south while we boast looking intelligently ignorant. Does the elected elite understand the meaning of the recent exit of Nippon investments? Do you have any sense of its subsequent economic implications here? Would it compromise the quality of life in these pearly isles?

Revenue decreases as 15,000 employees earn poverty income wages and salaries literally struggling to make ends meet. This is topped by stagnancy in income with no chance of any salary increase in the near-term.

Helping them exit poverty income is through local appropriation. But it’s a huge task in that it would need more than $650 million to fulfill. Source of this fund anybody? It requires leadership!

Moreover, the power rate increase this week is another pile of hardship leveled against families already under abject poverty conditions. Woe! Anybody home?

Do we have some depth of vision how to alleviate the deepening hardship on households across the archipelago? Any solid idea how this is best resolved beyond dismissing it with the usual chorus, “not yet, already?”

Culture: What’s the savings grace that has kept this issue hidden all these years? It’s the combination of a culture of sharing and generosity, including food stamps and other federally-funded assistance. Otherwise, there would be a lot of very unhappy people on the hill demanding real-time answers.

Sharing has kept us together in good and bad times. Coming from a large family I learned this aspect of collective survival amidst mind-numbing abject poverty conditions. We had to work the family farm to supplement our needs and did so successfully.

But the long hard journey was worth it. It sinks an appreciation of the essence of hard work to meet basic needs. You learn earning your dues—you work hard for it. Nothing is handed to you in a silver platter. It feeds that sense of cooperation with other siblings. It strengthens that sense of filial unity to face challenges together.

We know things have slowed down considerably in what’s known as economic contraction. It makes it obligatory that we visit family members to feel out their situations. It usually turns out to be a good gathering where we burn meat and learn how our siblings are doing.

Hope: Be that as it may, I still see distant lights at dawn flashing from the wings and tails of large airplanes roaring off the international airport heading to Tokyo or Busan.

Our small tourism industry is moving along, slow it may be given the apparent economic contraction. Had to nurse a creeping sense of hopelessness as I ponder issues or this must be the low point of my day.

Moreover, our friends from the Land of the Rising Sun continue to make these isles their vacation destination. We thank you for your contributions. The NMI can’t do without powerful and lasting contributions and investments from Japan. Our primordial relationship opened the way to work together for the benefit of all to which many of us are very grateful.

Recalled in the mid-’60s walking home after school when several buses loaded with people headed north. I didn’t know it was the embryonic start of tourism here. And it gradually grew into the single major industry here today.

Both my folks grew up during the Japanese time and were able to get jobs in the industry for knowing the lingo. They had very decent Japanese.

Reiwa: Japan has picked an economic theme for the new imperial era: Reiwa Era. Translated, it means “beautiful harmony.” Have we picked one or does it matter that there isn’t any at all? Eh, I like Magoo’s recommendation, “Not yet, already”, while looking intelligently dazed.

John S. Del Rosario Jr. | Contributing Author
John DelRosario Jr. is a former publisher of the Saipan Tribune and a former secretary of the Department of Public Lands.
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