House panel wants new land-lease deal with IT&E

THE House Committee on Natural Resources wants the government to draw up a new land-lease-extension agreement with IT&E that will include a new appraisal of the property.

The committee met on Tuesday morning to discuss IT&E’s lease which has already expired and is up for a 15-year extension.

By a vote of 5-1, the committee turned down the proposed lease extension. Rep. Leepan Guerrero said the lease extension had already been delayed for a long time, and it was now time to act on it.

But the five other members of the committee, Chairwoman Alice Igitol, Reps. Donald Barcinas, Frank Aguon, Joe Itibus and Edmund Villagomez, said there should be a new proposal with a new appraisal of the property involved.

They said the proposal before them is  based on a 2015 appraisal.

In response to the request of the House committee, IT&E submitted a new appraisal on April 24, 2018 for the three lots the company is occupying.

For the property in Garapan, the market value of the land in 2015 was  $144,000; this year, it’s valued at $206,000,  an increase of $62,000 in market value.

For the lot in As Gonno, the market value for 2016 was $105,000 while its value in 2018 is $162,000, an increase of $57,000.

For the Chacha lot in Kagman, the market value in 2015 was $75,000; in 2018, the market value is $137,000, an increase of $63,000.

The Department of Public Lands proposed the following annual rent amounts: for Garapan, $8,640; Kagman, $4,400; and As Gonno, $6,300.

If a new lease-extension proposal is to be negotiated, the committee wants IT&E to pay rent in an amount equivalent to 6 percent of the 2018 market value for each property: $12,360 for Garapan, $8,220 for Kagman and $9,720 for As Gonno, for a total of $30,300 per annum for all three lots.

Rep. Leepan Guerrero said it is not IT&E’s fault that the lease-extension agreement did not include an updated appraisal of the properties.

He noted that  DPL submitted an extension proposal two years after the lease had expired.

Igitol agreed, saying that the only reason for the delay in acting on the lease extension is because the proposed agreement does not have an updated appraisal.

A representative for IT&E, Allan Palacios, was present during the committee meeting, but he declined to comment when approached by Variety.

DPL Secretary Marianne C. Teregeyo said she cannot comment on the committee’s decision because she has yet to read an official letter from the Legislature.

But she added that DPL is always open to meeting with Igitol and other lawmakers.

As for the delay in the submission of the lease-extension proposal, Teregeyo said: “The delay is on both sides. I don’t have my records at the moment, but part of the delay was caused by IT&E’s delay in submitting the appraisal report and their public benefit [proposal]. But the draft lease extension has been with the Legislature for over six months now.”

Teregeyo said the first appraisal that IT&E submitted was rejected by DPL because of some incorrect data. She said they returned the document to IT&E for revision and correction.

“When the review was done and after finalizing negotiations, DPL submitted the draft renewal to the [House] committee in Nov. 2017 or only a month after IT&E completed its submission. So this is not entirely DPL’s fault.”

Source: Marianas Variety :

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