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By Benhur C. Saladores

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (April 28, 2000 – Saipan Tribune)---The chair of the Senate Federal and Foreign Relations Committee is eyeing more U.S. funding for the Commonwealth government for various infrastructure projects and local economic programs.

In preparation for this step, Sen. David M. Cing has asked the Department of Commerce to produce a detailed report on the financial aid granted by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to the CNMI to see how these funds have been spent.

Sen. David M. Cing made the request to Commerce Sec. Frankie B. Villanueva as part of his efforts to seek funding for critical projects needed by the Commonwealth government.

He said a federal grant such as the EDA is what is needed by Tinian for its own economic growth as he noted that a proposed harbor breakwater in the island municipality is seeking funding for its construction.

"This is just sort of project suitable for an EDA grant, and would produce significant economic development benefits for the people of Tinian," Mr. Cing said in a letter to the commerce secretary.

The report should detail by fiscal year the projects funded, the amount and the senatorial district where the money was spent, according to the FFR chairman, who expects to receive it within 30 days.

Mr. Cing disclosed that he has been asking for these financial records from both independent and federal agencies to find out the total amount of U.S. assistance provided to the islands as well as to substantiate future requests by the CNMI.

"Tinian has never received from EDA, so I am asking them now to provide me this report to see what we can do," he said in an interview.

"I don't want to hear another excuse that we exclude Tinian because it's not completed. Somebody has to be responsible for all these deliberations. We have to take advantage of all these federal grants and put them into good use," added Mr. Cing.

For additional reports from The Saipan Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Saipan Tribune.

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