Torres creates planning office for the Commonwealth

The Torres administration has approved the creation of a separate government office that is intended to guide the future development of the CNMI

The CNMI Office of Planning and Development came into being after Gov. Ralph DLG Torres enacted the bill that established the office last Oct. 6, 2017.

According to the enabling measure, Senate Bill 20-02, the OPD would improve the planning processes of developments in the CNMI to “increase effectiveness of government and private actions, to improve coordination among different agencies and levels of government, to provide wise use of CNMI resources, and to guide future developments in the CNMI.”

The bill was introduced by Sen. Arnold I. Palacios’ (R-Saipan).

A statement from the Torres administration said that planning is “essential.”

“More important than developing the plan is having the tools and the ability to implement the plan successfully. The governor and his administration understand that this is an effort that requires all hands on deck,” said press secretary Kevin Bautista in the statement.

The OPD would be headed by a director for planning and development that Torres would appoint and would be guided by an advisory council composed of the director of the OPD, the administrator of the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality, the CNMI Zoning Administrator, the executive director of the Commonwealth Utilities Corp., the managing director of the Marianas Visitors Authority, representatives of both the Rota and Tinian Mayor’s Offices, and the department secretaries of Public Works, Public Lands, Lands and Natural Resources, and Commerce.

“As we are in a position of greater possibilities, we are tasked with the difficult, but soluble challenge of properly utilizing resources to develop a better community for everyone who calls these islands home,” said the administration statement.

According to the legislation, the OPD director should hold a bachelor’s degree in planning, architecture, engineering, business administration, public administration, or other related fields from a U.S. accredited university along with at least seven years of administrative management experience or a master’s degree or higher, also from a U.S. accredited university, with at least four years of administrative management experience.

The duties and responsibilities of the OPD would include the preparation of a CNMI comprehensive sustainable development plan that provides both short and long-range guidance for economic infrastructure and physical development of the CNMI.

The OPD would also assist in the planning, improving, and implementing of comprehensive planning activities at all levels of the government; ensure consistency of the current planning programs and projects with the comprehensive development plan and policies; adopt necessary rules or regulations in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act; make detailed written recommendations to the governor; enter and carry out agreements between solicited assistance from public, private, or federal sources; and to deliver an annual report to the governor and the Legislature’s presiding officers every last Monday of January.

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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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