THE new law that will transform the Commonwealth Development Authority into the Commonwealth Economic Development Authority will make a lot of important structural changes on how the CNMI government attracts investors, said Mike Sablan, vice president of Triple J Enterprises Inc., and a member of the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers.
“For many, many years — many decades actually — government agencies have tended to do their own promotions and marketing of the CNMI. We've had efforts from the governor's office, from the Legislature, from the Department of Public Lands, and this department and that agency,” he said.
“What this [new law] would help do is coordinate all this effort so that we go out and work together with a unified set of incentives and see what we can do as a collective unit to promote investing in the CNMI because the fact is that investing in the CNMI for many good investors is a difficult, difficult proposition for many reasons.”
He added, “First, we're very remote. We're very far away from the U.S. mainland. We're closer to Asia, fortunately, but we have a lot of competitive hurdles that investors have to deal with aside from location, and issues here are unique and many investors are challenged, for example, by our land alienation restrictions which are the law of the land, and so we need to work around that.”
Secondly, he added, “we have a very limited population, especially a population of qualified workers so investors who need to employ workers to operate their investments would be challenged by that.”
Sablan said, “We're close to Guam and Guam has become a hub for telecommunications, for airlines, for shipping. If not for that, we might be the hub and make it easier for investors to come in.”
He believes that the new law, or P.L. 22-1, will “help us coordinate our efforts. It's going to empower CDA to tap funds to promote our economy. As it is now the enabling act that created CDA does not allow the agency to readily access those funds, so this would empower said agency to appropriate the right funds for investment promotions.”
Introduced by Rep. Angel Demapan, the bill that became P.L. 22-1 was unanimously passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives.