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Chamorro lands inventoried, accounted for

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 by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - On Tuesday the Governor's Office announced the completion of inventory and accounting of the Chamorro Land Trust and Guam Ancestral Lands-leased properties with a total value of nearly half a billion dollars. Governor Eddie Calvo says for the first time in history, the Chamorro people will be able to see an inventory and accounting of the lands held in trust for them.

"It's been a ten-month journey and it's been a lot of work by so many people," he explained.

As a result of this comprehensive effort, the leased properties were valued at $411 million. While the inventory took 10-months to complete, the recommendation to conduct the effort stems to 2006 when the Office of Public Accountability provided the initial recommendation. Public auditor Doris Flores Brooks says this could have only been done through the commitment and collaboration of many including former Land Management director Monte Mafnas who died this year.

"This is and continues to be a collaborative effort and that's the way the Government of Guam should work, collaboratively for the good of the people to account to the people of Guam the value of the lands that we have in our possession," she said.

All of this couldn't have been possible without the work of CLTC staff including administrative officer Joseph Cruz who literally inputted one lease at a time, saying, "It's a historical event, we all worked hard, myself and my co-workers; we're just glad that it's done already."

Over 2,600 leases were put in the inventory with hundreds of others found to be bogus. "What's important here is accountability and transparency and again there were bogus leases found when you have sloppy accounting and no accountability bad things happen and usually bad things do occur," the governor added.

So what does it all mean? Calvo stated, "We do believe now with the valuations of these properties we will now the resources in the future so that we can invest back into the Chamorro Land Trust, no more empty promises we can move forward in surveying so more leases will be put out, of course more taxes being paid and also we would have the resources so we can make good on promises so we can have infrastructure in many areas of the Chamorro land trust property."

The $411 million was added to GovGuam's assets thus creating an unprecedented massive ripple effect. Governor Calvo stated it will have impacts to investors and credit rating agencies that look toward Guam as a potential investment opportunity. The OPA meanwhile will be issuing an audit on the CLTC in the next coming weeks.

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