16 Oct 2017
- By Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa – [email protected] – Variety News Staff
SOME residents of Saipan are opposing Saipan Globe International Group Limited’s qualifying certificate application for its $76-million hotel project in San Roque.
The hotel developer is seeking to get a $10.5-million tax break under the QC program.
The Commonwealth Development Authority held a public hearing on Globe’s application on Friday afternoon at the multi-purpose center in Susupe.
Those who opposed the QC application were Rep. Edwin Propst, former Rep. Tina Sablan, KKMP owner Gary Sword, businessman Glenn Hunter and Kagman High School principal Leila Staffler.
Saipan Globe’s Tom Liu and John Kwon also attended the hearing conducted by CDA board chairman Ignacio Perez, members Dave Demapan and Frank Lee Borja and executive director Manny Sablan.
Saipan Globe’s consultant, Tony Muna, made a presentation on the project, a 536-hotel room in San Roque.
He said the hotel will have the usual amenities such as a swimming pool and a restaurant.
The project is still in the permitting process stage but Muna said they are hoping to begin construction in mid-2018.
Propst, Sword, Staffler and Hunter said they support the project, but Sablan does not, adding that another major hotel project in Tanapag and San Roque will affect the area’s water and sewer system.
The five of them do not support the QC application, and urged the CDA board to turn it down.
Sword said the CNMI needs money to support major infrastructure projects on Saipan.
“That $10 million will go a long way to fund various infrastructure projects like water, sewer and roads,” he said. “Just do the project — you can make this work without QC. You don’t need QC, just pay your taxes just like other local businesses here do.”
Propst said the CNMI needs more revenue to fund medical referrals, the hospital and other critical public programs. He said the commonwealth should be taxing businesses instead of giving them relief or rebates.
Sablan said Saipan Globe should provide more information about the project and present a contingency plan on how it will move forward without affecting the environment and water resources and without causing traffic jams in the area.
Hunter and Staffler, who are both businesspersons, said they have never availed themselves of the QC program and have paid their taxes to support the commonwealth. They urge Saipan Globe to do the same.
Hunter said the Hyatt is an example of a big business establishment in the CNMI that did not apply for QC or any tax incentives.
Asked by reporters if they will move forward with the project if their QC application is rejected, Liu said they have already invested a lot of money and resources and will proceed with the project’s implementation.
CDA board chairman Ignacio Perez said listening to the comments made him realize that not all people understand how the QC program works.
Perez said any business that deals with hotels or tourism and will stimulate growth and development may apply for tax incentives as mandated in the QC statute.
He said under the law, an applicant in compliance with the requirements are eligible for QC, subject to CDA’s recommendation and the governor’s approval.
CDA can only make a recommendation but the governor will make the final decision on an applicant’s QC application, Perez said.
“There will be time when we won’t need to implement this QC program. But right now, this is the time to give qualified investors tax incentives. The CNMI is not the best place to invest or do business. We have a business-unfriendly environment because of so many factors including many local and federal requirements so if we don’t give incentives to investors they will go to Guam, Palau or the Philippines,” Perez said.
He said since the enactment of the program in 2000, only five active businesses have been granted qualifying certificates: Saipan World Resort, Bridge Capital, Sand Castle, Alter City and Ocean View Resort. Perez said a casino is not eligible for QC incentives.
For more information about the program, go to http://www.developcnmi.com/tax/qualifying-certificate-program#home-intro.
Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/99317-some-residents-oppose-investor-s-qc-application