6 Feb 2019

Saipan casino vows to finish project

12:46 pm on 6 February 2019

The company building a multi million dollar casino resort on Saipan in the Northern Marianas (CNMI) has vowed the project will be completed despite the difficulty in recruiting construction workers.

The 200 room hotel and casino Imperial Pacific Resort under construction in Saipan, CNMI

Photo: RNZ/Mark Rabago

Mark Brown, the chief executive of the Hong Kong-based Imperial Pacific International, has asked the CNMI to rally behind the company, following the US government's decision to ban Filipino workers from one of its visa programmes.

The US said Filipinos given H-2 visas had a 40 percent overstay rate but CNMI neighbour and fellow US territory Guam argued the rate there was only between three and five percent.

Guam said excluding Filipinos would put its construction industry at risk and that it planned to lobby Washington for an exemption.

The Saipan casino has employed more than 800 H-2 workers.

Last month, more than 100 Filipinos working on the project rallied in front of the US Department of Labor office.

They asked Imperial Pacific to pay their salaries and buy their plane tickets back home because their work visas were expiring at the end of January.

Mr Brown said the construction workers would get their pay as scheduled on the first of February and he also promised their plane tickets would be processed.

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