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Editorials 2020-January-24

Editorials & Columns
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Extend the Hyatt, Fiesta Resort leases already

IT is highly advantageous and beneficial to the NMI to have these two reputable and time-tested hotels that are crucial to the viability of the islands’ only industry, tourism. Besides land-lease payments, they pay taxes, their employees (many of whom are local/U.S. workers) pay taxes, their customers pay taxes, their contractors/vendors pay taxes — all of which create more economic activities that generate more revenue that pays for the government’s vital public services and pressing liabilities.

The most realistic and effective way to get more government revenue from legitimate businesses is to allow them to continue doing business. It appears, however, that the usual government approach is to say, “This is a stick-up” which may “work” for a robber, but for this government — a debt-ridden entity with ongoing, never-ending and ever-growing obligations — not so much.

Pay MVA first

TO paraphrase President Reagan, “The most painful words in the English language are: I’m a lawmaker and I’ve just introduced a bill.”

But surely even lawmakers know that the central government, for the past several months, is unable to remit MVA’s full share of the hotel occupancy tax collections. (Over $4 million from FY 2019 alone.) Yet a bill has been introduced to require MVA to hand over the funds it doesn’t have to municipal governments which exist mainly to employ and overpay the supporters of elected officials.

Here’s a better idea: find out how the central government can make timely payments to MVA so it can regularly disburse funds to the municipalities.

Action!

BESIDES saying, on the one hand, that IPI should pay what it owes and, on the other, that its license should be revoked, what specific action has been taken by the opposition to achieve either?

Incidentally, what is the status of the ongoing discussions between IPI and the central government regarding their dispute over the amount of taxes and fees that the casino investor has to pay?

The politics swirling around this issue — and whenever someone says it’s not about politics, you know it’s about politics — should somehow clear up, more or less, after the November elections.

But right now, CHC owes CUC over $30 million; PSS can’t afford the pay hikes it implemented when the economy was still humming; MVA is owed over $4 million; the central government must continue making regular and hefty payments to the Settlement Fund and meet government payroll and pay for medical referrals, etc., etc.

How exactly can the government do all that?

Collect from IPI what it supposedly owes which it disputes? How? Go to court, sue IPI and take a number? Shut IPI down by revoking its license? Cut government spending?

How? The more specific the better.

The public has heard enough about these and other “problems.” What many of us would rather know is what exactly could be done or should be done about them — and that someone is already doing (and not just talking about) it.

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