THE Senate is expected to pass on Friday House Bill 22-70, which aims to promote economic development by offering tax incentives to investors who will build, expand and operate projects in the CNMI.

In an interview, Senate Floor Leader Vinnie F. Sablan said Senate Vice President Justo S. Quitugua, who chairs the Resources, Economic Development & Programs Committee, "has solicited additional comments for the committee to consider."

"We did have an audience with Commonwealth Economic Development Authority Executive Director Manny A. Sablan…and he articulated the importance of the bill in order to market…the CNMI through economic incentives," Senator Sablan said.

"We may see some amendments on the floor to strengthen the bill, but we have had good discussions so far and are looking forward to its passage," he added.

Introduced by House Minority Leader Angel A. Demapan, H.B. 22-70 will mandate the CEDA board to come up with a list of businesses that are eligible to apply for a qualifying certificate in line with the five-year economic development goal of the CNMI government.

It will also authorize CEDA to develop and publish a baseline minimum capital investment amount, including public benefit contributions, for a new business or the expansion of an existing business that is on the "targeted industry list."

Further, the bill will empower CEDA to determine minimum capital investments below baseline, "should the economic development goals of the CNMI provide justification for a lower investment threshold."

In a separate interview on Tuesday, Demapan said H.B. 22-70, also known as the Investment Incentive Act of 2021, "seeks to promote economic development in the Commonwealth and increase the competitiveness of the Commonwealth for private sector investment."

Demapan said, "There will also be opportunities for existing businesses to avail themselves of these incentives for eligible expansion projects, finally leveling the playing field for many of our long-standing locally owned businesses. These businesses have been here for decades, in good times and in bad, so it’s only fair that they be allowed to avail themselves of incentives to further expand their business activities."

Demapan said he recently met with Senate President Jude U. Hofschneider and other senators to discuss the legislation.

"We agreed on some of the amendments proposed by the Senate. I anticipate that they will take up these amendments at their next session and in the end, I look forward to their favorable action on the bill so that we can move it forward in the legislative process," Demapan said.

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