POOR PUBLIC SERVICES OBSTACLE TO GUAM GROWTH

Editorial

Pacific Daily News

HAGATNA, Guam (Nov. 1) – The move of as many as 7,000 Marines to Guam from Okinawa, Japan, will translate into major economic benefit for our island and overall improvement in the quality of life for everyone.

First, the addition of thousands of new residents will mean additional spending in our economy. Above the boon to business, all of this additional spending will result in a higher volume of Gross Receipts Tax collected by the government.

More money also will flow in for construction projects. The Marines will need a base that meets their particular needs. That means new buildings, including housing -- officer and enlisted quarters and the need for additional rental units. The majority of this will have to be built. This will mean more construction jobs for the island, which in turn will lead to more money being spent in our economy.

But it's critical that the government of Guam look beyond this potential windfall for the island and take a realistic assessment of what needs to happen in order to make this growth continue. First and foremost is the continued improvement to infrastructure.

We have sufficient electrical power generation and must ensure transmission improvements continue to handle the influx.

The government must assess current roadways and ensure that they meet the projected traffic needs, or recommend addition and expansion.

And, perhaps most important of all, the government must get the water and wastewater systems up to par and do so quickly. If GovGuam doesn't deliver on this, it is short-changing every resident and inviting the military to circumvent the local system and put in its own water and wastewater infrastructure.

We have known of the need to fix the existing water and wastewater systems and, in fact, remain under a federal court order to do so.

The addition of 7,000 Marines adds a solid, positive economic impact and emphasizes the need to get our water and wastewater infrastructure fixed right and fast. It is the No. 1 issue in attracting any further economic development, whether private business or military.

The best way to do this is if the government gets off the stick and moves forward with all deliberate speed toward privatization through a concession agreement. Every day it fails to do so is another day lost that could have been spent getting our water and wastewater systems upgraded to an acceptable level

November 1, 2005

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

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