Senate committee seeks public comments
The Senate Committee on Resources, Economic Developments, and Programs is asking all concerned government agencies, businesses, and the general public to submit their comments on two Senate bills—SB 20-35 and 20-36—that would have a direct effect in the CNMI’s current economic climate.
The said committee, chaired by Sen. Francisco M. Borja (R-Tinian), is currently reviewing both senate legislative measures.
The public comments would assist REDP committee members in making a decision whether to recommend for the passage of both bills before the full Senate body. The comments’ deadline is on May 9.
SB 20-35, introduced by Senate President Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan), seeks to amend 1 CMC 2806 (c) that would increase the public land lease terms for up to 40 years including an extension of 35 years; and to authorize existing public land leases to be amended to extend the existing lease term for 75 years.
The CNMI’s economy, according to Palacios, has steadily grown for more than two years after an over 10-year period of stagnant and depressing activity.
“However, the driving economic forces that propelled the Commonwealth’s prosperous economy in the 1990s no longer exist today. Therefore, the Legislature must utilize new and innovative ideas to attract new economic development and investors to the CNMI,” wrote Palacios on the bill.
He added that by extending the lease term of public lands to 40 years and granting an extension of 35 years would generate renewed economic interest in the CNMI among investors.
“A longer leasehold term would further encourage lending by investment and financial institutions to finance major projects that would in turn create new job opportunities, and stimulate other economic activity in the Commonwealth.”
Sen. Sixto K. Igisomar (R-Saipan) authored SB 20-36 that would regulate real estate transactions, brokers, and agents and requiring them to obtain real estate licenses by adding Division 8 (Real Estate Law) to Title 2 of the Commonwealth Code.
Igisomar said the CNMI is currently experiencing renewed economic growth with new investors coming in to acquire real property to build various business establishments.
“[Like] hotels or other accommodations, waterparks, restaurants, shopping centers, and other commercial buildings. Other investors are acquiring property that have been previously leased 55 years,” said Igisomar.
That’s why, he added, it is now about time to regulate real estate transactions, brokers, and agents would level the playing field for all individuals or companies that engage in real estate activities.
“This unregulated real estate practice has resulted in reports of fraud and deception by persons acting as real estate brokers or agents. Many non-U.S. citizens and CW1 status foreign workers are also engaging in real estate transactions without business license and tax IDs, and not paying taxes for income they make from real estate deals.
Igisomar said all players, whether individuals or companies, negotiating or facilitating the sale or lease of properties are non-licensed brokers and agents that are not under any regulatory laws.