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Babauta pays visit to governor-elect

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by Lannie Walker

Guam - Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Insular Areas Tony Babauta met with Governor-elect Eddie Calvo today at his office in Hagatna. Babauta said he initiated the meeting - his first with Calvo since he was elected in November. This is also Babauta's first visit to Guam since the election results were certified.

Babauta told the media that he likes to keep a close relationship with all the governors in the area. While he would not share the details of what was discussed behind closed doors, Babauta did say they would be discussing the military buildup. Asked if he was aware of an audit by the Government Accountability Office into compact impact funds, Babauta said he was aware of a request made to Congress but did not have any details at this time.

Babauta said he would also be discussing a CNMI visa waiver program with Governor-elect Calvo - a topic the latter seemed eager to discuss. "As we understand the financial predicament of the island," said Calvo, "this is something we need to move forward with in regards to widening our tourism base. And we believe with markets like China and Russia and the Philippines with the granting of a visa waiver program that could help in strengthening the tourism industry which is a pillar of our economy.

Calvo said the impact of a visa waiver program could ease issues the local government has with federal government in terms of financial obligations.

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