CNMI Governor, Utility Officials Make Official Visit To Fiji

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Ways to cooperate, improve utility services explored

By Junhan B. Todiño

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Feb. 3, 2016) – Governor Ralph D.L.G. Torres is in Fiji to re-affirm the "historical friendship" between the commonwealth and the island republic, according to a statement from the administration on Tuesday.

It said Torres is also in Fiji to meet with the Fiji Electric Authority as part of the Pacific Power Authority or PPA whose mission is "to improve the quality of utility services and electrical power in the region through cooperative efforts among island utilities, the private sector, and international donors."

It was Torres’s first off-island visit to a foreign country as governor, and he was accompanied by at least two legislators and some CUC board members.

The media statement from the administration did not disclose the names of the CNM officials who joined Torres in the trip to Fiji.

[PIR editor’s note: On Feb. 3, 2016 Marianas Variety reported that ‘The trip to Fiji of at least four Commonwealth Utilities Corp. board members led by Chairwoman Adelina Roberto may have violated the CUC enabling act, according to CUC board member Dave Sablan Jr. … He said "the gathering of four or more CUC board members, not in an open meeting duly noticed to the public," is against the law. … He said the law states that "meetings of the board shall be held within the commonwealth at a time and place publicly designated by the board at least once every month for its first two years of existence. Thereafter it shall meet at least quarterly. Special meetings may be called by the chairman or by the majority of the board members."’]

The group left on Saturday and is expected to return to Saipan this Thursday.

The administration said Torres made a courtesy visit to Fiji President George Konrote and Judith B. Cefkin, the U.S. ambassador to Fiji, Tonga, Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu.

The administration said Torres affirmed the CNMI’s commitment to regional initiatives for the improvement of living standards, trade opportunities and public health.

"As a member of the PPA," it added, "the CNMI joins other regional islands and nations to pool their resources and expertise for the common benefit of the islands, gain international representation, and improve access to international power sector assistance programs. It was under this agreement that utility personnel from the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and Guam were mobilized to assist the island of Saipan after Typhoon Soudelor."

As for the Fiji Electric Authority’s mission, the administration said it is to provide clean and affordable energy solutions for the Fijian people with at least 90 percent of the energy requirements coming through renewable sources by 2025.

"This goal is nearly the same mission the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. has set for the Northern Mariana Islands," the administration said.

While in Fiji, Torres will also "reach out" to the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community of which the CNMI is a member.

The Fiji trip was was funded by the Office of the Governor "at the invitation of the Fijian Electric Authority with official courtesies extended by the government of Fiji and the U.S. Embassy to Fiji," the administration said.

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