Guam - Senator Dennis Rodriguez, Jr. says he will be empanelling a working group to address changes and improvements that are needed to ensure Guam is getting its return on its investments into the Guam Economic Development Authority's qualifying certificate program. The QC program was created in 1965 to encourage economic investment in activities to strengthen the island economy by providing eligible companies tax incentives.
During today's hearing GEDA officials told senators the program needs to be updated. Greg Sablan has been with GEDA for almost twenty years and told lawmakers the QC program started to take a dive when the Legislature changed the program to allow the inclusion of domestic insurance companies. He said, "So really, we're as frustrated as you; but it's really beyond our control for who actually allowed for these benefits. And how even that particular industry was put on the table for us we can sit here and defend and show you numbers and all that really that was the turning point of the downfall of the program as I see it."
GEDA officials testified that changes would need to come from the Legislature, which sets policy for the government. Rodriguez said he would be empanelling the working group in the very near future.
Meanwhile during the oversight, GEDA indicated they are currently underwriting six applications including two tourist attractions and one each in manufacturing, green energy, services, and affordable homes. Two are targeted for board action next month. They further noted for QC beneficiaries, there are 19 active businesses including 10 insurance, 6 hotels, one service, one tourist attraction and one affordable home. GEDA officials also indicated that in the last five years, there have been at least two QC beneficiaries who have not been compliant and have since been removed and revoked from the program. An audit by the Office of Public Accountability on the QC program should be released soon.