OIA: Infrastructure essential to economic growth


The Office of Insular Affairs notes in a new report that the growth and diversification of the CNMI economy will ensure its economic sustainability and, in order to achieve that, improving its infrastructure is essential.

Toward this end, OIA said that it has been working with the CNMI government over the years to support the development of infrastructure and special initiatives.

“This investment in infrastructure to support economic growth has proven essential in the efforts of the CNMI to recover after the devastation of [Super] Typhoon Yutu,” states the report, which was submitted to U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources chair Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) last Oct. 1, 2019.

“The goal of achieving greater fiscal self-sufficiency and economic sustainability for the CNMI is dependent on the growth and diversification of its economy,” the report stated.

Economic growth, the report further noted, is dependent on a modern and well-maintained infrastructure, along with the capacity of local institutions and the workforce to meet and often exceed marketplace requirements.

“Economic growth and diversification are a complex and heavy lift for the CNMI, and OIA has consulted with the [U.S.] Department of Commerce on actions it has undertaken to support the CNMI,” the report noted, adding that the Department of Commerce has a broader and deeper range of programs to support economic growth and diversification.

Technical assistance programs offered by the OIA and DOC to the CNMI government for economic growth and diversification include the Ma’afala Breadfruit Farming Program Initiative, which aims to create a program that will grow and monitor 6,000 breadfruit seedlings across the CNMI, allowing it to be studied in its growing environment through Geographic Positioning Systems and plotting devices.

The Rota Mayor’s Office received a technical grant to continue the Rota Aquaponics Initiative. Aquaponics creates jobs, food, and possibly an exportable product unique to the CNMI.

The Department of Public Works received a technical assistance grant to expand the current capabilities of the government-run recycling facility, to include the redemption of aluminum cans and the recycling of rubber tires off-island. Through this grant, four recycling technicians will work primarily on the aluminum redemption side.

The U.S. Department of the Interior created the report as required under Public Law 115-218 or the NMI U.S. Workforce Act of 2018, which mandated the department to submit a report describing how it assists the CNMI in terms of identifying opportunities for economic growth, providing assistance in recruiting, training, and hiring U.S. workers, and providing other technical assistance.

U.S. P.L. 115-218 is also the legislation that extended the NMI’s CW program for another 10 years, along with a plethora of additional requirements and renewed restrictions for the CW visa, or the main temporary foreign labor visa in the CNMI.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.
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