24 Feb 2006

Official says Northern Marianas land management re-organisation made necessary by reckless spending

4:16 pm on 24 February 2006

The Northern Marianas government says indigenous people will be better served by the creation of a Department of Public Lands than the former Public Lands Authority.

This week the CNMI legislature passed a law to abolish the autonomous Authority following allegations of mispending.

The Govenor's Press Secretary, Charles Reyes, also says bringing the responsiblity of public land leases back under the administration is more in line with the constitution.

Former Authority board members have said the abolition was rushed through and is not in the interests of the indigenous people.

However Mr Reyes disagrees.

"They're using the indigenous issue as a shield to protect them from some of their reckless spending habits. From the excessive compensation, the charges of nepotism and corruption, the charges of excessive travel. All of the findings that orginally served to justify the bill which has now become law."

Today the former MPLA accounts were frozen and all previous board decisions were declared void.