Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Saipan Casino Proponent's Findings

The proponent of the Saipan Casino Act finds that when the Northern Marianas Descent (NMD) from Rota, Tinian, Saipan and Northern Islands entered into a political union with the United States of America through the Covenant in 1978, they did so with the belief it will bring to them economic opportunities and prosperity. These were in fact realized in the Commonwealth, particularly on the island of Saipan, but benefiting mostly foreign investors who owned, controlled, and managed the small, medium and big businesses. Unfortunately, due to the lack of financial resources, the majority of the NMD are placed in a difficult position to compete with these foreign investors. As a result, the local populace of NMD feels that they are not realizing their dream and aspiration of being self-sufficient. They believe, under this circumstance, it will force them to continue to depend largely on social programs and hand outs of the United States Government – fearing that the majority of the NMD will be placed in a depressing economic situation and living conditions in the coming years.

Also, the proponent of the SCA finds, through the recent census conducted by the U.S. Department of Commerce, that the NMD are now the minority in their native land, the Northern Mariana Islands. And this will hold true in the coming years. Understanding the negative impact this will impose on the people of NMD, politically, socially, and economically, the framers of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) cleverly created Article XII, whose purpose is to protect the heritage and rights of the NMD peoples, and to chart their political, social and economic destiny. With this right, which the NMD jealously protected, defended and supported in the exercise of their right to self-determination and in approving the Constitution of the CNMI, the people of the NMD in the Third Senatorial District opted by way of this SCA, for the purpose of securing social and economic stability for themselves, elected to restrict the ownership and control of the casino license exclusively to a corporation owned by persons of NMD. For the same reason stated herein, the Indian Tribal Council in the United States protects the ownership and control of casino license for themselves (Native American Indians) in their lands – the Indian Reservation properties in the United States, which they are now operating successfully.

Furthermore, the proponent of the SCA finds that the economy in the islands has been very bad, with no signs of improvement. Economic conferences and forums were conducted by the government, Northern Marianas College, local business community and invited guest (economist) to find ways and means to deal with the economic crises, but to no avail – nothing materialized. Many business establishments have declared bankruptcy and/or totally shutdown, and many more are in the verge of shutting-down. The economic situation is making it hard and difficult for the government to operate and provide public services, and to fund medical referral, education, public safety, retirement, scholarship programs, to reduce the utility rates and much more. In fact, the government is just counting days when it may no longer afford to pay employees’ salaries and retirement pensions, etc. And when this happens, it will create a political, social, and economic catastrophe throughout the Northern Mariana Islands.

Noteworthy, other states are experiencing the economic pinch due to the September 11, 2001 incident and are also considering seriously casino operations as a way to help their economy. It is for all these reasons that the proponent of the SCA feels confident that by legalizing casino on Saipan, it will help revitalize the economy, benefiting the people, the business community and the government, and that it will bring about the badly needed revenues to support the public services and prevent payless paydays, etc. and prevent an economic catastrophe in the Commonwealth.

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