Some of Guam and Saipan’s richest people and companies were paid millions of dollars by the Commonwealth government using federal pandemic relief funds, while thousands of CNMI residents were waiting for their meager $340 weekly unemployment deposits. Kandit has obtained the listing of the Commonwealth’s COVID 19 Expense as of August 30, 2021.
Many parts of life changed, when the politicians of our islands met with the era of coronavirus. How the government was run, resources marshaled, and business done transformed in such a short time.
Most took precautions. Some got sick. Unfortunately, a few of us died. The entire response was supposed to be geared toward preventing death by stopping spread and mitigating severe illness. Such an enormous program changed the way our world worked, except for one facet of life in Hagatna and Capitol Hill that exists today as it did before the pandemic: the rich get richer, and the poor simply are afterthoughts.
COVID-19 accomplished in 18 months what Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal could not achieve in nearly a century: the redistribution of wealth. Except FDR’s vision had more to do with taxing the rich indiscriminately to provide safety nets for the poor. Today, politicians in both Guam and the CNMI enriched just the rich they prefer, while other businesses suffered, and the working class got just enough scraps to feel relieved from financial ruin, and even a bit grateful for the seeming handouts.
Notably, the Kanoa Resort was paid nearly $12 million, and has been obligated $32 million during the pandemic, according to the expense list as of August 30, 2021. Guam businessman Bic Sobti’s companies have been paid more than $5 million. POI is slated to earn more than $11 million, and CTSI $5 million.
“If you can afford to pay $32 million to one corporation in the CNMI with federal funds during COVID and you can afford to give pay raises ranging from 20% to 42% to cabinet members and your chosen elite, then you can most certainly afford to keep the food shelves for Karidat and Empty Vessel Ministry stocked and loaded for the hundreds of families who need help battling hunger,” Congressman Ed Propst (D-Saipan) said in an open letter to Gov. Ralph Torres.
The payment of millions to the companies mentioned above is a snapshot of a listing of hundreds of Guam and Saipan companies through 3,437 purchase requisitions approved by the Commonwealth government under the lax procurement procedures of the public health emergency.
You may read the full list below: