Pacific Daily News

HAGATNA, Guam (Nov. 2, 2009) – Guam officials should be vigilant in making sure every possible qualified worker on Guam gets buildup jobs before others.

The island will receive more than $734 million for military buildup projects, as outlined in the Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010, which was signed into law last week by President Obama. That's more than four times the amount that was appropriated for the Department of Defense for military construction in 2009.

This sum roughly translates into about 7,000 new construction jobs created for fiscal 2010, based on the ratio of construction industry project amounts to jobs in the 2007 Economic Census for Guam. Every $1 million in expenditures created about 10 construction jobs at that time, according to the Guam Department of Labor.

It's the skilled trade workers who will be the most in demand and the defense spending bill requires that construction companies look for qualified U.S. citizens and residents first before turning to recruitment of foreign workers.

That is why it's important for elected officials to support the work of the Guam Contractors Association's Trades Academy and the Guam Community College, which is helping train a local workforce to qualify for these jobs.

Elected officials also must invest in the Guam Department of Revenue and Taxation, so the agency can ensure the island gets its due from the buildup. At stake for local residents is: the 4 percent gross receipts tax on as much as $15 billion in military construction projects; business income taxes for military contractors who do that work; and the income taxes of as many as 25,000 construction workers, most of whom will be brought in by construction companies.

The potential tax windfall from military construction projects would be enough to erase the Guam government's general fund deficit -- which is mostly money owed to taxpayers and vendors -- and create a surplus of hundreds of millions of dollars for local government operations.

Rev and Tax needs to assign revenue agents to make sure off-island contractors are registered and paying taxes here.

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