CNMI SEEKS LOAN FROM RHODE ISLAND BANK

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Letter notes need to repair faltering power plant

By Gemma Q. Casas

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, July 15, 2008) – Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) Governor Benigno R. Fitial is considering applying for a loan from Rhode Island’s Independence Bank to provide the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. with the funds it needs.

Fitial has invited Robert Catanzaro and Michael Sammartino, chief executive officer and senior vice president of Independence Bank to visit Saipan.

Chartered in 2004, Independence Bank posted a 29 percent growth in its assets, which amounted to $368 million during the third quarter of 2007, according to its financial statement.

Press Secretary Charles P. Reyes Jr. said he could not provide more details about the proposed loan.

"I would have to check with the secretary of Finance when he returns from Rota," he told Variety in an e-mail.

In his invitation letter to the bank executives, Fitial said he wants to secure loans for the CNMI government through the bank’s federal government-backed loan programs.

"As you are aware we are in the midst of an electrical utility crisis," the governor said. "Our power plant is on the verge of failing. I wish to discuss power plant opportunities with you, as well as other projects that our islands are working on."

He added, "Our goal would be to move forward with actual loan applications as soon as possible, preferably while you visit."

He assured them that necessary documentation to process the loan application will be readily available.

"I will make sure you receive full cooperation from our government so that you can obtain all the necessary documentation you need and met with the appropriate government officials who have the knowledge and expertise on the projects we want to pursue," Fitial said.

The bank executives were asked to visit Saipan during the week of July 7 to 11.

The governor said Finance Secretary Eloy Inos will be out of the commonwealth from July 10-15, but his special assistant for disabilities, Thomas J. Camacho, will assist the bank executives should they decide to visit the island.

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

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