A reflection on business leadership and economic strategy


Last of a two-part series

The Babauta-Torres leadership’s core beliefs in an economy that values small business and entrepreneurship, local wealth and job creation, Buy USA, skilled workforce, and technology and innovation founded on our business leadership beliefs as follows:

We believe that wealth and job creation are integrated. It is important to focus on expanding opportunities to allow for business expansions in the short run and sustainability in the long run. It is undisputed that small businesses are the fastest job-creating engine in the economy. A Babauta-Torres administration will focus its assistance on the creation and retention of small businesses and provide assistance in infusing technology and innovation accordingly. Doing so would contribute to a healthy economy that provides jobs for residents to stay at home and work and for off-island students and residents alike to come home and participate in the CNMI’s main economic engine in the hospitality industry.

We believe in stability for the nonresident workforce: adjustment in CNMI and federal laws may be required to provide CNMI-specific statutory protection or status for five years (five-year work permits) for all current nonresident workers who are legally in the CNMI and continued presence must be legal in order to continue to work in the CNMI. Workers in this category shall be set at a ceiling not to exceed 14,000 nonresident workers, and gradually reduced over time as set forth by the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security pursuant to 48 U.S.C. 1806.

We believe there is a compelling need to reduce the high utility rates by reducing dependency on fossil fuel and focusing on alternative energy. Fossil fuel is not the future. Meanwhile, work with Guam and other insular territories for short-term and long-term bulk fuel purchase agreements.

We believe in the local retirement program. We must restore the 25-percent unilateral reduction in pensions by using any and all additional revenues and savings realized, especially by investigation and enforcement to collect uncollected taxes. Remit current required employer contributions and the required annual payments to the Settlement Fund. Schedule payment of interest under P.L. 17-82 and P.L. 18-2 for those who withdrew their contributions under the defined benefit plan. Allow retirees the ability to contribute government services at half-time and half-pay plan without penalty.

We believe in tourism, hospitality and production of local food. We will promote high-end tourism, work with airlines, make the NMI a safe destination, promote tourism for culture and history, and accept major currencies from Japan, China, and Korea.

We believe in the need to upgrade and implement a CNMI-wide economic development master plan sanctioned by the CNMI government (Legislature and administration), in collaboration with private sector leaders.

We believe in creating investment opportunities, by opening up public lands for targeted industry in the CNMI economic development master plan sanctioned by the CNMI government that provides ample opportunities for the CNMI’s resident workforce.

We believe in decent living wages through statutory minimum wage program. Minimum wage should be indexed to the NMI economic conditions and the island cost of living, in order to entice young locals into the private sector workforce.

We believe in the role of the private sector in the economy. It’d be a standard operating procedure for the Babauta-Torres administration to achieve a constructive and positive working relation with private sector leaders. A range of potential industries that would boost tourism includes education, military, ecotourism, agriculture, sports, film and TV advertising, lift capacity (close dialogue and personal relationship with airlines, cruise ships, and other tour transportation providers), Destination America and visa waivers are but a few that the Babauta-Torres administration will take action during our first 60 days in office in 2015.

As we look back over the years, Juan S. Torres and I would agree with most that our Commonwealth could be made better with fulltime leaders and leadership than what we presently are offered or provided.

May God bless us all as we exercise our inalienable right to vote for the leaders and the kind of leadership that we all deserve!

Special to the Saipan Tribune

Juan Nekai Babauta & Juan Sablan Torres (Special to the Saipan Tribune) Dayao
This post is published under the Contributing Author. He/she does not normally work for Saipan Tribune but contributes for a specific topic or series.

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