NMI's Fitial irked at Legislature over telecom - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

NMI's Fitial irked at Legislature over telecom

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by Lannie Walker

Guam - It seems CNMI Governor Benigno Fitial is joining Governor Felix Camacho's concerns regarding the recent actions of GTA TeleGuam to stop the feds from granting IT&E's request for an $89 million federal Phase II grant to improve telecommunications infrastructure in the region.  IT&E was already awarded $8 million in stimulus funding for the Broadband Technology Program.

That funding is to go toward not only telecom improvements here on Guam, but also in the CNMI.

Fitial is concerned with the recent actions of the Guam Legislature in its passage of a resolution that essentially asks that should the feds grant the $89 million IT&E application, that all money be split equally amongst the island's telecom companies - so as to ensure a level competitive playing field. Fitial said, "The Guam Legislature's resolution severely places our region's wellbeing at risk. It is disheartening to know that an applicant is being singled out because of their attempts to secure the advancement of our region."

Jim Lacson is Governor Camacho's righthand man on all things involving information technology, and tells KUAM News not only were local companies informed; they could apply for the federal grant, but also the recent actions of the legislature could potentially turn away off island investors.

"Our position has been that we were trying to encourage local companies to apply for these grants, and obviously, lately it has been very competitive and the story has taken on a life of its own.  But our main story is that we want to attract investments to the island."

Governor Fitial meanwhile added, "I think the resolution's untimely passage does nothing more than damage the credibility of any application that comes out of the region, not just Guahan." Governor Camacho supported Fitial's viewpoint, saying the resolution is damaging. As the debate rages on, the CNMI is hosting a presentation by IT&E on the stimulus funding at the Governor's Conference Room this evening.

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