Speaker’s Weekly Address: Develop Island Aqua Culture; More Resources for Rev & Tax

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Guam – In her weekly radio address, Speaker Judi Won Pat  spoke about the importance of developing an Aqua Culture business on Guam and providing more resources for the Department of Revenue and Taxation to collect taxes owed.

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Speaker Won Pat Weekly Address 2-16-11

Buenas yan hafa adai and thank you for the opportunity to address the people of Guam this morning.

The Legislative committees have been very busy conducting confirmation hearings for board members and directors. My colleagues and I remain steadfast in conducting thorough evaluations of each Board member and each Cabinet member nominated.

Just last Friday I sent a letter to the Administration expressing my concern, particularly with the appointees to the Guam Visitors Bureau Board of Directors that he adhere to a public law enacted by the 15th Guam Legislature in ensuring that each Board or Commission shall include at least two women and one youth between the ages of 18 and 26. With balanced boards and committees, we can ensure true representation of our Island community.

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At a board confirmation hearing last week for the Guam Economic Development Authority, I was pleased to hear the Board nominees expressing their commitment in assisting the development of Small Businesses and looking into ways to entice more investment opportunity on island as well as looking at markets for Guam’s export businesses.

A few years ago at a Trade Expo to Taiwan, a delegation consisting of Former Speaker Tony Unpingco, then Senator Eddie Calvo and Former Senator Jesse Lujan and I had the opportunity to tour an aquaculture facility that raised shrimp and other various fish and marine life. We were amazed to discover that a serious infection affected much of their shrimp population, however, there was one species of shrimp that was not affected by the disease, and you can imagine our delight when we found out that the healthy shrimp were an export product of our University of Guam.

We will work to maximize the economic potential and development of our island aquaculture industry, not only as a means for local sustainability but as a lucrative export commodity for our island.

We must also continue to support the efforts of our islands’ entrepreneurs and small businesses. They are the back bone of our economic prosperity. So many of our local business owners have struggled through bad economic times and have stayed committed to our island community through typhoons and recessions. These local businesses have established exemplary standards of conduct for our island community.

They have faithfully hired local workers, created a thriving tourist economy, established local insurance companies, grocery stores, hotels, construction companies, law firms, real estate agencies, restaurants, and so many more. They are true examples of the fortitude and strength of character that makes our island what it is today, and have set us on a path toward a dynamic economic self-reliance.

As more companies from off-island come to Guam to take advantage of the military buildup, we as Lawmakers and as a community must hold these newcomers to the high standards created by the pillars of our local business economy—prioritizing our local workforce, always paying Gross Receipts Tax, and respecting the culture and environment of Guam.

In order to fully realize the economic benefit of the coming realignment, every business entity wanting to do business on Guam must be licensed here first and pay their portion of GRTs. Often, companies doing business here for the short term do not pay their taxes here, but in their state of origin. Gross Receipts Tax pays for our schools, our hospital, public safety, and other essential social services. Everyone who lives on Guam uses the resources you pay for with your tax dollars, and everyone who takes advantage of opportunities in our community has a responsibility to pay their fair share.

Already my office is working on legislation to provide the Department of Revenue and Taxation the additional resources and tools it needs to do its job. We are working with acting Director John Camacho who stated that “We should support the enforcement of collections and give more resources to Rev and Tax to actually enforce these laws…If you’re required to file returns and you don’t, then there are stiff penalties.”

In closing, I would like to recognize our local business owners. Thank you for your dedication. You have paved the way for the next generation of entrepreneurs. You have built family businesses for them to learn from and inherit; mentored our young business people as they have begun their careers; and provided leadership in our community.

Thank you.