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Agency says’ federalization’ questions cloud picture

By Nazario Rodriguez Jr. SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Sept. 30, 2009) - The Commonwealth Development Authority anticipates a significant potential economic impact arising from the military buildup in Guam. However, with federalization issues at home, the CNMI is finding it hard to move on due to the lack of details in the federalization regulations.

"As of now, we continue to find ways to help our clients. We are looking at the labor impact of federalization but there are still no regulations and we don’t know how our investors would be treated under the new undertaking with respect to employment," Sablan said.

He said there will surely be a spillover of the Guam military buildup to the CNMI and the islands will benefit a lot from this.

"We have to take advantage of its economic potential, both in the business and tourism sector because some can do business here and their dependants would be coming from Guam for [rest and recreation]," he said.

He said they are also looking at the positive impact to the agricultural sector and they are planning to provide loans to the fishing industry, the agriculture, and marine sectors.

He said they are also concerned about shipping rates and airline rates but these must be addressed separately.

He said it is not only Saipan but Rota and Tinian are also following these developments as they are eager to also take advantage of the economic impact.

CDA also expects a positive impact from the stimulus funds since that would be money circulating within the local economy.

On the issue of visa waivers for Russians and Chinese tourists, Sablan said there had been 20 percent drop in the market due to the absence of the visa waiver.

He said the federal government must provide this because of its big impact to the CNMI’s tourism industry.

"That is a developing market, especially the Russians, who spend more than the average tourists," he said.

The CNMI, he said, needs this diversifying market to sustain its economic well-being.

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