The Saipan Chamber of Commerce board of directors has expressed support for a bill in the House of Representatives that would create the Commonwealth Economic Development Authority as the primary agency tasked with the CNMI’s economic diversification.
Chamber board of directors president Joe C. Guerrero informed Rep. Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan), who is author of House Bill 22-21, that they believe CEDA is best positioned to promote, expand, and enhance economic development in the CNMI.
Co-authored by six other lawmakers, House Bill 22-21 would strengthen the tools and powers of the CNMI government and expand economic development.
Guerrero said that CEDA will have the tools it needs to support new business development, promote the expansion and retention of existing businesses, and allow the CNMI’s private sector to thrive.
“H.B. 22-21 is truly a revenue-generating bill, as it allows for new dollars to enter the Commonwealth to grow our economy and support our families,” said the Chamber president in his letter to Demapan last Tuesday.
Demapan stated in the bill that the CNMI economy requires a renewed focus on economic development and diversification to provide jobs, and economic opportunity to a community that has been beleaguered with natural disasters, global crisis, and the lingering impacts of the widespread collapse of the manufacturing sector that has resulted in volatilities inherent within an undiversified economy.
The lawmaker said a targeted focus of a single governmental entity to plan for and implement efforts to cultivate a stronger, more diversified economy for the CMMI is necessary in establishing competitiveness against locations vying for global investments.
Senate President Jude U. Hofschneider (R-Tinian) has introduced a similar bill that will rename the Commonwealth Development Authority into the Commonwealth Economic Development Authority and repurpose as the primary agency tasked with the economic development of the CNMI.
Hofschneider said the creation of CEDA is part of the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers’ recommendations.
According to the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers, the economic development of the Commonwealth can be best served by a targeted approach by the CDA aimed at the needs of the economy and providing CDA with the mandate and resources to support this effort.
The council said the renaming and repurposing of CDA will advance the ability of the CNMI to drive economic growth toward a direction that will enhance quality of life for the CNMI residents.
Under the bill, CEDA will be empowered to undertake this mandate of economic development with the flexibility to become proactive in the pursuit of industries and investments that will strengthen the CNMI economy.