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Bad idea dropped as CNMI visitors balk

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Dec. 24, 2009) – Acting Guam Department of Agriculture Director Joseph D. Torres yesterday lifted the ban on fresh produce and food products from the CNMI, as he felt it was causing a great deal of inconvenience to the general public and partially due to insufficient public notice given prior to implementation of the new policy, adopted on Dec. 17.

Sen. Paul A. Manglona, Ind.-Rota, told the Variety that the ban was lifted through the intervention of Guam Gov. Felix P. Camacho.

"I am very grateful to Director Torres and Governor Camacho for understanding our situation and allowing the people of the CNMI to continue bringing their produce and food to Guam," the incoming president of the 17th CNMI Senate told the Variety in a phone interview.

People from Rota said the sweet potatoes they tried to bring into Guam were confiscated due to the new policy, which required them to secure a license to transport such items in advance of travel. License costs were assessed at $10.

Manglona said the Guam Agriculture Department explained to him that there had been incidents involving people from the CNMI who had tried to bring in 50 lbs. of produce, declaring that they were for "personal consumption" to avoid paying taxes.

Manglona said this issue will be addressed.

"Commercial vendors and business people have to comply with regulations," he said.

"Some business people who are selling sweet potatoes on Guam might have been circumventing the 50-lbs. privilege for the general public to avoid paying the import tax. My appeal is, don’t impose this hardship on the general public. It is our custom that when we visit families and friends on the other islands, we bring them the best vegetables and fruits. After all, the Marianas chain is just one people with two governments," he added.


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