MPLT declines DPL request to use $1M for homestead infrastructure

THE Marianas Public Land Trust has declined the Department of Public Land’s request to use the $1 million settlement money from the Kan Pacific-Imperial Pacific International breach-of-lease case.

MPLT instead ordered the department to comply with the law and remit the money to the land trust without any further delay.

MPLT board chairman Martin B. Ada, in his response to DPL Secretary Marianne C. Teregeyo’s letter, said $1 million does not derive from the management or disposition of fund, adding that DPL is restricted from using lease revenues to construct infrastructure projects.

The issue is whether the money derived from the lease revenues could be appropriated by the Legislature to fund infrastructure needs for homestead subdivisions.

Teregeyo said using the $1 million for infrastructure would be a real benefit to the beneficiaries as it will allow them to construct homes.

“To this end, we intend to ask the Legislature to appropriate those monies,” Teregeyo stated in her letter to Ada dated July 11, 2016.

“However,” she added, “the attorney general has opined that arguments could be made either way on the nature of these funds. They could be considered revenues of DPL (and not to be used to fund infrastructure) or revenues of the CNMI (and subject to appropriation). And concurrence from MPLT on DPL’s position will avoid expending resources to obtain a definite answer from the court and potential liabilities.”

Teregeyo said the lack of basic infrastructure prevents beneficiaries from building homes on their homestead lots.

In his response dated July 27, 2016, Ada said that they don’t agree that the funds, whether they be from a settlement or a judgment, constitute CNMI revenues and are subject to legislative appropriation.

“This assertion is not supported by the Constitution or previous court findings and opinions,” Ada added.

“I regret to inform you that not only will MPLT decline the request, the trustees urge you to comply with the constitutional mandate as well as Public Law 15-2 and remit the finds to MPLT without further delay,” Ada said.

“Regarding the reference to an opinion by the attorney general on this issue, MPLT would appreciate seeing that opinion. We would like to understand the findings and opinion conclusion.”

The $1 million settlement was from the breach of the land lease agreement between Kan Pacific, DPL and Imperial Pacific International which operates Saipan casino investor Best Sunshine International.

On Nov. 20, 2015, DPL issued a request for proposals for the Marpi properties being leased by Kan Pacific which runs Mariana Resort & Spa.

Kan Pacific and Imperial Pacific International later entered into an agreement under which Kan Pacific assigned its remaining lease that ends in 2018 to Imperial Pacific.

But a gaming facility, Club 88, sued Kan Pacific, Imperial Pacific and DPL for not informing the company of the negotiation to purchase Mariana Resort & Spa.

Club 88 is leasing a facility at the hotel for it gaming business.

The parties eventually agreed to settle the case for $1 million.

Source: Marianas Variety

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