All Aspects Of GovGuam Contracts Must Be Open


Pacific Daily News

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (May 31, 2016) –The government of Guam must be completely open and transparent in all aspects of its contractual obligations. Taxpayers cannot afford to be kept in the dark when decisions are being made that have the potential to cripple government operations, potentially raise tariffs or taxes, etc.

An arbitration clause in the Guam YTK Corp. lease with the Port Authority of Guam allowed for an arbitration panel earlier this year to deliberate in secret. The end result was a $14 million award to Guam YTK that continues to climb because of interest payments.

And who is responsible for making those payments? Taxpayers.

The award was made after the Port terminated its lease with the company for: failing to pay rent for three years; failing to begin construction on a fisheries facility; and other violations. The $14 million is compensation for lost business as a result of the termination of the 45-year lease, despite Guam law forbidding government lease for periods longer than five years without legislative approval, which the Guam YTK lease didn’t receive.

Because of the arbitration’s secret nature, the community has no way of understanding why this panel chose to rule against taxpayers. Taxpayers have no way of determining for themselves whether the award was the result of poor governing on the Port’s side, and who should be held accountable.

What’s worse, the impact of this award actually goes beyond taxpayers because the Port does not have the money to pay. That means it will have to increase its fees and tariffs to afford the payment. Those increases will then impact the cost of goods on island, and everyone will get to pay for an arbitration award they weren’t privy to.

The government shouldn’t be able to enter into any contractual agreement that allows for resolution in secret proceedings.

Elected officials need to start living up to their promises of an open and transparent government.

Pacific Daily News
Copyright © 2016 Guam Pacific Daily News. All Rights Reserved

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