GovGuam told to cut costs, diversify economy

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HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Guam's largest business organization on Monday called on the government to look at industries outside of tourism to grow the economy, with the Covid-19 pandemic halting the visitor industry and bringing revenues down by $47 million, or 8.5%, in eight months.

The revenue shortage is "concerning," according to the Guam Chamber of Commerce.

The Republican Party of Guam, meanwhile, called on GovGuam to prioritize reducing the cost of running the government and to "do so immediately."

The CNMI and Hawaii, which also heavily rely on tourism, have reduced current fiscal year budgets and announced plans for government furloughs in light of reduced revenue.

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, a Democrat, has said her administration has been prudent with resources, so no furloughs or other cost-cutting measures have been announced.

Her budget director, Lester Carlson, said much of the revenue shortfall could be attributed to the movement of the tax filing date to July 15, from April 15

Republicans: 'Do the responsible thing'

"While it is clear that the executive branch absolutely refuses to reduce costs, the legislative branch needs to do the responsible thing and identify cost-cutting measures," the Republicans said in a statement. "Even at the heart of the pandemic, knowing that government collections would be bleak, [the administration] continues to hire, and other than a few Republican senators, the Guam Legislature said absolutely nothing."

The administration is proposing a record $1 billion budget for fiscal 2022.

The Democrat-led Legislature has been holding agency budget hearings leading to a vote on the 2022 budget.

Potential new industries

As for the Guam Chamber of Commerce's ideas for potential new industries for the island, here are the ones it believes are attainable:

Alternative dispute resolution

Captive insurance

Guam trust law

Relocation of high-wealth individuals and business from Asia

Pharmaceutical manufacturing relocation to U.S. territories

Construction, ship repair and labor

Safe haven port

Satellite launching

Silicon Village initiative

The governor, during a prior news briefing, said her administration has started exploring alternative industries and luring businesses from Hong Kong, and beefing up agriculture and aquaculture.

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