Torres admin monitors Guam bill taxing fuel transshipments

The administration of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres continues to monitor a Guam legislation that would tax fuels shipped through the island.

A statement from the Torres administration reiterated that it continues to monitor Guam Senator Telena C. Nelson’s (D-GU) legislation, Bill 257-34. The bill proposes to impose taxes on liquid fuel passing through the islands. Nelson introduced the legislation on March 13, 2018.

When Saipan Tribune solicited comments from the Torres administration, press secretary Kevin Bautista said that Torres as chairman of the 23rd Micronesian Islands Forum has agreed with the other nine Micronesian leaders that imposing taxes on passing fuel through Guam is widely harmful to the economy in the region.

“As chairman of the 23rd Micronesian Islands Forum, Torres led regional direction to oppose the Guam legislation that would impose taxes on the transshipment of fuel through Guam that are bound for the rest of Micronesia. This was collectively adopted and signed on by every Micronesian chief executive, including [Guam] Gov. Eddie B. Calvo,” Bautista said.

“It was widely agreed upon that the legislation would have a detrimental effect on our economies,” he continued.

Bautista noted that the Micronesian region’s “fragile economic viability” further increases the importance of transportation in the region.

“Transportation is part of the lifeblood of any economy, and being in a region that is subject to external factors like a price increase would have detrimental effects. We will continue to monitor these discussions as they move forward,” he said.

In an interview last Monday, Rep. Joseph Deleon Guerrero (R-Saipan) recommends to the House during their session that the CNMI government must figure out its next course of action if the Guam Legislature decides to enact the legislation, including filing a lawsuit against Guam or bypassing Guam altogether.

If the Guam bill taxing fuel transshipments through the island is enacted, fuel prices for the CNMI, the Republic of Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia is expected to skyrocket, along with other collateral price hikes such as transportation costs.

“We need to meet with our leaders, the governor, the Governor’s Office, and the Commonwealth Ports Authority and…start looking at alternatives,” he told Saipan Tribune.

The House yesterday unanimously passed House Joint Resolution 20-12 on Monday, urging the Guam legislature to not act on the bill. The H.J.R. now heads to the Senate for action.

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