Firms optimistic about Guam's economic future - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Firms optimistic about Guam's economic future

by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - A final vote in the House and Senate is expected tomorrow on the final version of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. After days of closed-door meetings between representatives from the House and Senate that were selected to serve on the conference committee the final version dealt another setback to the Guam realignment.

Local businessmen are optimistic about the island's economic future.

The Guam Chamber of Commerce and the Guam Contractors Association have been some of the major proponents of the military buildup, even going so far as recently launching a letter campaign to the Senate to block amendments by Senator John McCain to freeze and cut funding for the Guam realignment. Those efforts as well as efforts by many other Guam leaders including Guam delegate Madeleine Bordallo, who sat on the House-Senate Conference Committee for the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act didn't receive a favorable response, as the final version puts the buildup on the backburner and freezes funding until the Department of Defense submits a master plan and provides evidence of tangible progress on the Futenma Replacement Facility.

The final version also requires a study be conducted on the military's force posture in the region. GCA president James Martinez says like everyone else he's disappointed that it has come to this. He does however remain hopeful and is thinking positive that the buildup is still going to happen at a delayed or slower pace. With private sector development, local government development, the new private hospital and projects related to the tourism industry, Martinez adds Guam's still got a bright future.

"So certainly there's going to be a lot of work out there, and if you want to call the military buildup 'the icing', we can call it that, but with or without the military buildup, I think Guam can sustain itself at least in the construction industry because there's going to be a lot of newer things that will be happening here, including our increase in the tourism industry," he told KUAM News.

Meanwhile, included in the final version of the 2012 NDAA is Congresswoman Bordallo's amendment removing a provision in last year's NDAA requiring the Navy have 33% voting share on the Consolidated Commission on Utilities. Chairperson Simon Sanchez said, "It's good, it gets rid of something that was pretty stupid and un-implementable to begin with and unnecessary, and it still preserves in law that the Congress has authorizing GWA and secretary of defense to enter into discussion of the transfer of the Navy's system to GWA."

Sanchez adds long-term the Guam buildup is still good for the island in having an increased defense posture; it's disappointing to freeze money that could come into the economy - specifically GWA. He says the NDAA reflects the confusion and lack of consistent national policy for the buildup.

Bordallo was not successful in removing the provision dealing with the sale of the Fena Reservoir at fair market value, but all hopes not lost because the provision can be used as a basis for litigation in the future. The House and Senate are expected to vote on the final version of the 2012 NDAA tomorrow Guam time. Congresswoman Bordallo is pushing her colleagues to vote against the measure, but if passed she will push for President Barack Obama to veto it.

Of note is that Japanese media have started reporting that Japan is looking to sharply cut expenses for the Marines' relocation from Okinawa to Huam after hearing of funding being frozen for the buildup.

 

 

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