29 Dec 2004

Government in CNMI faces debt repayment problems

11:11 am on 29 December 2004

The government in the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas says it has no money to pay the nearly five and a half million U.S. dollars it now owes to marina builder, Marine Revitalization Corporation.

The administration of the Governor, Juan Babauta, says the Legislature needed to have identified money within the budget in anticipation of a court judgment that would enforce repayment.

Lieutenant Governor, Diego Benavente, said if the legislature had acted on the administration's proposal for a settlement with MRC for around 2.2 million dollars, the government could have saved millions.

MRC recently filed with the Superior Court a lawsuit that asked for the enforcement of over 5.46 million US dollars awarded to the non-profit company in an arbitration proceeding.

Businessman, Anthony Pellegrino, founded MRC to build the Outer Cove Marina in the mid-90s, with the end objective of turning it over to the government.

But the venture got into difficulties when the government failed to support the development by passing legislation that would bar commerical vessels from using the already established Smiley Cove.