Planning our future, anybody?


There are reasons for my advocating a set of fully thought-out economic plan compiled and reviewed by key players here with the help of professional planners. It should give prominence to a “vision statement,” a clear guide of current and future goals of the local government.

It should serve as a blue print to “improve the welfare of our people and communities by creating more convenient, equitable, healthful, efficient, and attractive places for present and future generations.

“Planners work with elected and appointed officials such as mayors and planning commissioners to lead the planning process with the goal of creating communities of lasting value. In the creation of a plan, planners identify the strategies by which the community can reach its goals and vision in, e.g., the tourism industry and how the industry should assimilate into our community.

“It is important to recognize that a plan can take a variety of forms including: policy recommendations, community action plans, comprehensive plans, emplacement of basic infrastructure, neighborhood plans, regulatory and incentive strategies, or historic preservation plans.”

Unless we plan FOR our future versus plan BY eventualities, the net effect is to rein-in unintended consequences mired and reduced to hardship because we’ve failed ourselves. The consequence of playing it by ear is itself one of devastation where the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. Why is Guam thriving? Because it has a plan that it refines as it moves forward.

The fickleness of the tourism industry (and it turns even more fragile given the tension in the region between the U.S. and China) should matter to any decent minded elected official of the need to push for economic diversification.

In brief, we shouldn’t leave all our eggs in a single basket, so to speak. We must push farming and fishing beyond institutional levels. It would take meticulous planning and policies to head down this path. And protracted the process may be, we shouldn’t shy away from opening better opportunities of the two sectors.

Staple of negligence: The NMI is suffering from a prolonged bout with the lack of leadership. People at the helm have opted for polished victimhood alongside business cronies. And they ensure there’s a distance between them and the people they represent out of fear of hearing the truth.

The deepening fiscal crisis at home has been fed by staples of negligence we refuse to admit though treat it with business as usual. Now there’s a seeming threat to hurl self-inflicted NMI fiscal crisis as superficial excuse for Covenant Agreement review. It’s history! The agreement we approved by over 78 percent is a permanent arrangement.

The only option on the table is to request the executive branch of the federal government to revive the 902 Talks. If it is granted, it means long working hours reviewing federal laws and self-prescribed anomalies in the agreement. Upon agreeing on collective findings, the package is sent to the U.S. Congress.

This is where the work gets harder too. The bicameral U.S. Congress has over 500 members each with his own issues. Ours is like a grain of sand at the bottom of a million gallon water tank. Most could care less about our future! It’s a longer journey to perceived justice than meets the eye.

The issue of fiscal insolvency merits serious self-evaluation. This exercise is part and whole of self-government—policy review and refinement—to improve opportunities to foster an even playing field especially for the disadvantaged.

The occasional uproar of half-cocked spouts for review of the agreement is now customary in the local DNA—disorientation—chest pounding like mini King Kong. We would eventually outgrow adolescence if in fact we address and resolve fiscal insolvency in the immediate future though it isn’t one I view with any sense of optimism.

Somehow, the regurgitation of the same tired arguments reminds me of our seeking to watch the parade when it has already left the parade ground. Let’s accept the fact that most of the elected officials never had any sense of vision or foresight to anticipate the unintended consequences of piling staples of negligence on our dinner table. A rudderless journey is woefully dangerous!

Limiting fed policy: We should also be mindful that immigration is now federal policy. It requires providing jobs for U.S. zitizens and future workers from foreign countries would have to shift to H-1 or H-2 workers. The NMI no longer has the free hand to hire foreign workers as it used to be. It now must focus and begin training and educating locals by empowering them with the requisite skills acquisition or competency level. It’s a protracted journey in itself.

I’m not particularly enamored by the imposition of such federal policy. But it was the feds’ way of reminding the NMI that it can’t continue abusing foreign workers. But it grants us the ability to move into planned growth and development at our own pace. My disappointment is that labor and immigration must move together in tandem. We abused it until we lost it permanently. Thus the greater need to “plan” ahead. No longer could we second-guess our future. It’s now or never!

Help via agreement: The Covenant provides for assistance via the State of Department on matters relating to economic programs in nearby Japan and Asian countries. Through official protocol we could explore assistance in applied technology for farming and fishing via private industries or universities. This would be the right approach to instituting planning so it is organized, followed and funded to help locals venture into entrepreneurship.

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.

Related Posts

Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.