Business sector lauds address, lawmakers split

By Gerardo R. Partido
Variety News Staff

HAGÅTÑA — Leaders from the business sector lauded Gov. Felix Camacho’s address yesterday, although some details on the administration’s various economic programs were not disclosed.

Guam Chamber of Commerce Chairman Lee Webber described the governor’s speech as positive and upbeat.

"I think he hit all the right buttons. He talked about the government living within its means, although he wasn’t specific as to what that meant as far as cutting back,” Webber said.

On privatization, Webber said the governor could have been more definite on the need to have Guam Waterworks Authority privatized, which is what the chamber is also pushing for.

"He was positive on the military which the chamber is also positive on, and the work on boosting tourism such as the work on the Leo Palace, that is very positive,” Webber said.

He praised the governor’s call to encourage bipartisan relationship between the Legislature and the administration. "That is very good and really needs to be done. Now, it’s just a matter of whether they walk the talk,” Webber said.

He added, "The governor said ‘our people are watching us to see how we respond to matters at hand… we cannot be led by emotion alone… our leadership must be built on principles’. I think that pretty much sums it up. That paragraph will either ring true or it won’t. That’s really the bottom-line.”

Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association president David Tydingco praised the governor’s upbeat message.

"I believe that’s the right approach. I think that relative to his overall message of community cooperation and making hard and tough decisions, I think he hit the nail on the head,” Tydingco said.

"With respect to calling on the Legislature for cooperation and making tough decisions for privatization and reorganization, I think now is the time to do it,” he added.

Tydingco, who is also the chairman of the Guam Visitors Bureau, said he liked what the governor stated about not only looking at Guam’s core tourism markets but also looking at China as a new source of tourists.

"Equally important, I think, is paying attention to ‘Product Guam’, to not only open markets for people to visit Guam but also to allocate resources here on island so that we can improve our tourism product,” Tydingco said.

"I also liked what he said about promoting entrepreneurship on island. There are significant opportunities that are present in the tourism industry. But we need to create an environment where entrepreneurs can take advantage of such opportunities,” Tydingco added.

For James Martinez, executive director of the Guam Contractors Association, the governor’s speech was exciting because it spelled out a lot of opportunities for contractors.

"Overall, he was very positive on how the economy is going. His speech outlined a lot of potentials, especially for contractors. He talked about building new schools and upgrading the existing schools we have here. Also, we welcome the news that more military construction projects are on the way. That is very encouraging to us. That will provide a lot of jobs,” Martinez said.

He lauded the governor’s "reiteration” of his commitment to privatization.

He said Camacho’s statement on encouraging more entrepreneurship on island would inspire more people to start their own businesses or become contractors themselves. "All in all, I think it was a good speech. We needed that pat on the back,” Martinez said.

By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Variety News Staff

HAGÅTÑA — Guam Gov. Felix P. Camacho’s State of the Island Address yesterday drew mixed reactions from senators.

Some supported the governor’s proposals. Others said the report was lacking in substance, and still others suggested that the governor stole credit from the Legislature.

"The speech was long on promises and very sparse in details,” said Speaker Vicente Pangelinan, D-Barrigada.

He took Camacho to task for his failure to mention that the huge public spending cuts and the projected revenue increase were results of the Legislature’s work.

Pangelinan wondered why Camacho did not mention that the gross receipt tax law passed by the senators contributed to the projected revenue increase. "I think we deserve a little more credit than he gave us,” the speaker said.

Sen. Lou Leon Guerrero, D-Tamuning, described the governor’s speech as "not justifiable” and "has no substance.”

She said it would be hard for the governor to convince the community that their lives are better without offering facts to support his claim.

She also noted that the governor did not mention the poor state of the water service in the community.

Sen. Ray Tenorio, R-Yigo, is satisfied with Camacho’s address. "It was a comprehensive plan that laid out the future of Guam. It is clear that the governor looks for the prosperity and success of the island,” he said, adding that the governor’s report was a "good reflection of what we’ve seen in the past year.”

Sen. Bob Klitzkie, R-Yigo, praised the Republican governor’s speech as "good, optimistic and upbeat.” He particularly supported the governor’s reorganization plan for the government.

But Sen. Rory Respicio, D-Chalan Pago, said the governor’s reorganization plan needs to be thoroughly reviewed. "When you downsize the government, it entails a social responsibility. When people in the private sector lose their jobs, they apply for public health and welfare programs. What will happen if you lay out thousands of workers in the private sector?” Respicio asked.

Sen. Joanne Brown, R-Chalan Pago/Ordot, looks forward to the administration’s reorganization proposal. "The governor has made a good presentation. We will evaluate the revenue projection and see what will happen in the coming year,” she said.

Sen. John Quinata, D-Talofofo, said the governor’s proposed plans for public safety lacked details.

Vice Speaker Frank Aguon, D-Yona, said that while he found the speech "acceptable,” the governor did not mention specific plans on how he plans to drive the economy.

Sen. Mark Forbes, R-Sinajana, said he was pleased with the governor’s decision to invest in education. "One thing that personally means a lot to me is making a higher investment in education,” he said.


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