Bill 56 might discourage telecom investments on Guam

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Ricky Hernandez, GEDA deputy administrator testifying on Bill 56 (Still image from the Guam Legislature)

Guam – Representatives from the Guam Economic Development Authority and GTA Teleguam have expressed concern that Bill 56-35 might dissuade big telecom companies from investing on Guam.

Bill 56 seeks an Independent Economic Impact Statement on the potential revenue that can be generated by taxing telecommunication companies that use Guam as a pass-through site for their fiber-optic undersea cable landing stations.

During the public hearing on the bill Wednesday morning, GEDA Deputy Administrator Ricky Hernandez, said there are a lot of economic benefits that can be realized by attracting data centers to set up shop on Guam.

However, he said the taxes implied in Bill 56-35 may serve as a disincentive for telecom companies to invest here.

Hernandez added that Guam already has a disadvantage in having a high cost of electricity.

He stressed that it may be better to offer tax incentives rather than increased taxation to convince telecom companies to invest here.

Dan Tydingco, executive vice president of GTA Teleguam, testified that the current demand for data is insatiable.

To facilitate more telecom investments on Guam, Tydingco said policy makers may need to “look through a different lens.”

He said other countries in the region are already offering telecom incentives and Guam may need to do the same.

Tydingco added that there is enormous potential for Guam to be a “data bridge.”

During the question and answer portion of the public hearing, Senator Taitague asked if GEDA has any internal resources to fund a study called for by Bill 56.

Hernandez answered that GEDA will look into federal grants that may be used to fund a study.

With the additional perspectives given during the public hearing for Bill 56, Taitague said she may make amendments to the bill and schedule another public hearing.