STATE OF GUAM’S ECONOMY
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING
GOVERNOR FELIX P. CAMACHO
July 30, 2003
Buenas and good afternoon…
The last time I stood before the members of the Guam Chamber of Commerce,
I spoke of the difficult budget decisions that we faced as a government…
decisions that have affected everyone in our community.
During the seven months that I have been in office, we have already reduced
the overall cost just within the Executive line agencies by $15 million
dollars and further reductions in FY 2004 of at least $56 million. We
implemented a 32-hour workweek and furlough plan… the first time
in GovGuam’s history... to keep services open. We left vacant more
than 200 hundred positions – in the Executive are working to move
another 300 employees off through retirement. Today each agency –
autonomous and line--continue to reassess its manpower needs and adjust.
All told, if my cost savings plan is allowed to work… and with
the assistance of the Legislature to truly relax the restrictions placed
on reorganization and privatization… by September 30th of this year,
we will have moved 1,000 employees off of the General Fund. In the Line
Agencies alone that is a 15% decrease.
In our autonomous agencies, we are expecting to reduce the overall size
of personnel by another 249 by the end of this fiscal year.
Change is something that many people fear… and the government of
Guam is not immune to that fear. Often, leaders are faced with strong
opposition to their initiatives and react by trying to please those who
are disgruntled. But that reaction should never be at the expense of the
greater good of our government and our island. We must stay the course
in our efforts to make the sweeping changes that we all know are necessary.
The services that the government provided 30 years ago have evolved in
importance. 30 years from now, the services we deem vital today will go
through the same transformation. Our taxpaying community must have the
ability to adjust to what it truly needs rather than being bound be restrictive
laws or long standing government services that cripple our ability to
make even minor adjustments.
In the next few days I will sign an Executive Order consolidating the
government of Guam’s 48 agencies to 12 cabinet agencies. This consolidation
is just the first step in moving our government to a smaller, more efficient
service provider. Reduction, consolidation and reorganization are only
the first few steps in the right direction.
GovGuam’s regulatory function should be limited to ensuring that
our quality of life meets or exceed national standards. Today… there
are far too many outdated regulations. Those that are vital should be
updated to resolve problems, not stop progress and those that are no longer
useful should be eliminated.
My Administration is working with the Public Auditor to strengthen and
improve government procurement laws, checks and balances and eliminate
government waste. As we do this, my message to you is this… all
bids, proposals and request for service will be reviewed and awarded based
on merit, cost and compliance. There will be no special consideration
given to those who were treated unfairly in the past… that double
standard would only perpetuate the wrong doings of the past.
The hallmark of my privatization efforts will be free market competition.
The best, most cost effective proposal… the one that offers the
most long-term benefit will be awarded. And rest assured that procurement
under my Administration will be fair and deliberate.
I want to thank the Guam Chamber and Senator
Robert Klitzkie for introducing Bill 147 to open up the reorganization
process and allow me to exercise my Organic Authority.
I ask you to continue fighting any movement to repeal the privatization
of services… but more importantly, I ask that you join me in asking
for greater flexibility to privatize government-wide.
GovGuam must get out of the business of providing services that private
companies here and nationwide deliver with more efficiency, reliability
and with better financing.
We are revisiting the terms of the GTA sales package to make it more
attractive and realistic. It is time to sell the last publicly owned telephone
company in America.
We will work with the CCU to privatize portions of or sell outright the
Guam Power Authority and the Guam Waterworks Authority. We will work with
the elected school board to outsource services at DOE. We will expand
our privatization effort to include landscaping, transportation, the landfill,
trash collection, computerization, insurance, and healthcare.
We will privatize the gantry crane operations at the Port Authority of
Guam. Private companies will finance the cranes, introduce new technologies
and build a highly skilled workforce that can compete with other regional
ports. The end result will be improved delivery of goods to Guam’s
consumers and other destinations at a more reasonable cost. This is the
first in a series of bold steps to privatize the port and create a new
industrial center at Apra Harbor to meet the needs of a fast growing maritime
I have also instructed GEDCA and the Chamorro Land Trust Commission to
prepare both the existing JFK school site and the Oka Point property for
lease to private investors. The development of a convention center and
cultural center at the JFK site will provide new visitor attractions and
a funding source for new schools including a northern high school.
Leasing Oka point will provide revenues for infrastructure in other land
Trust areas, making it more self-sufficient and self-sustaining. Holding
on to Government properties is not our trusted duty… allowing them
to be developed is.
For this reason I will continue to return unused excess land to original
landowners – because land in the hands of government – whether
federal or local -- is under-used land. The return expands our tax base,
allows you – not the government - to determine the highest and best
use of your own private property. The boundaries of government must end
were private choice and ownership begins.
I am preparing legislation to provide GEDCA the funding to invest in
the dreams of our people... called the Village Industry program. The entrepreneurial
spirit seen at the Chamorro Village and Flea Markets every Wednesday night
must be encouraged and nurtured through training, technical assistance
and funding assistance from existing federal and local small business
We’ve also completed the first draft of the Tumon Business Improvement
District, which will give the businesses in Tumon the authority to take
charge of their infrastructure so they no longer have to rely on government
to support its critical needs.
Each of these efforts to privatize, return, lease, share or sell resources
will not only revive our economy but expand it. I have said many times
that government reform was the most immediate issue we faced…. But
the most important challenge before us is to stabilize and revitalize
of our economy.
In March, I introduced my Economic Stabilization Plan… And we’ve
taken significant steps towards stabilizing our economy.
Immediately upon taking office, my administration identified all unexpended
CIP funds, awarded contracts and disbursed those funds as quickly as possible.
In the first seven months $70 million dollars in CIP funding were acquired
for classrooms repairs and new construction, major highways, sewer systems,
airport repairs and for A&E at the Port. Working with the U.S.D.A.
Office of Rural Development, another $13.5 million dollars will soon be
released for the construction of the new College of Business and Public
Administration building at the University of Guam.
We’ve seen an increase in $20 million in construction projects
for the third quarter. 4th quarter will increase by 50 percent. That brings
construction activity to $60 million this year.
We have received numerous military port visits; TANDEM Thrust exercise…
and today the marines are conducting military exercises in our northern
villages. Today, over $200 million in military construction is ongoing
The Bonds when sold… and they will be sold… will infuse $139
million in tax refund to help spur the retail industry. Million more will
go towards repair of schools. The remaining millions will go towards paying
debts owed vendors, many of who are sitting right here in this room.
Paying down our ten percent for disaster related expenses will release
another $226 million dollars in reimbursements. But this is still not
enough… and if we do not continue to push for a turn around quickly
it will result in diminishing returns.
So where do we go from here?
Within five years, our goal is to restore Guam’s Gross Island Product
to $3.1 billion dollars… that is a 15% increase in our economic
activity and the restoration or creation of 7,500-10,000 jobs on Guam.
I stand here today, committed to rise above doubt and move aggressively
and deliberately forward with my plan to recover our economy and restore
a higher level of prosperity.
We only have one choice today. The same choice many of you make everyday.
And that is working to make things better.
GVB is working to increase visitor arrivals to pre-typhoon levels…
increasing revenues for our visitor industry to restore and add jobs lost
over the past few years.
I authorized the transfer of $5.3 million to the Tourist Attraction Fund
to pay for Guam’s marketing efforts in Japan and Korea, to re-establish
our presence in those highly competitive markets. I will seek even more
funding for GVB to develop and market a three-year strategic plan to bring
our visitor numbers back.
We are developing niche markets for our visitor industry. My Administration
is working to bring professional sports teams from Asia to train on Guam.
The economic benefits are enormous… the media spotlight is priceless
and the fan patronage for these teams is unfaltering.
Guam’s opportunities will be found, not in simply going back to
the industries that exist, but in those yet to be developed.
Each of us had to drive through some portion of Tumon to get here today
and what many of us forget is that the Tumon today was not the same Tumon
that our fathers before us saw just some 30 years ago. Back then, Tumon
was just a quite beachfront community.
When men like my father, the late Governor Carlos Camacho, first proposed
to establish Guam as a destination of choice for Japanese and other Asian
travelers, they too faced the doubters and naysayers. No one then would
have imagined that we would welcome an average of 1 million visitors to
our shores each year as a result of their “bold ideas.”
Beyond these traditional economic initiatives, my Administration, through
GEDCA, has completed preliminary evaluations of 16 regional hub opportunities…
from arbitration centers, to fisheries, to light manufacturing and warehousing,
to U.S. products and import export industries to professional certification
and education. We will now use Department of Interior and HHS grant funding
to conduct feasibility studies for each opportunity so that we can begin
pursuing those that have the greatest opportunity of succeeding on Guam.
I recently signed the law allowing Guam Fisherman’s Co-op efforts
to reinvest in the Gregorio D. Perez Marina in Hagatña. USDA is
looking to finance and provide millions in grants to expand the Marina
to add piers, restaurants, shops and a fisheries center. We will look
for federal assistance to do likewise in the Agat Marina to complement
those efforts. Just last year, Guam’s Fisherman’s Co-op sold
over $1 million in fish to Guam’s local market that accounted for
only 37% of local demand.
Working in conjunction with an international fishing group—we are
now exploring the feasibility of a Guam-based long-range fishing operation.
As the largest deep draft port in the Western Pacific, our goal is to
establish an international marketplace to sell fish from the Marianas
and Micronesia region. We will market our port, our air carriers and our
FDA approval to international markets. Coupled with aquaculture, Guam
is the gateway to expanding fishing industries here and throughout our
I remind you that Hawaii and Seattle’s multi-billion dollar fishing
industries started at their marina.
I am also working with leaders from other regional destinations to establish
a regional Micronesian cruise line industry. While we have all marketed
our individual strengths, we all recognize the strength in marketing the
combined advantages of all our islands. A regional cruise line will be
an extremely attractive package for visitors as well as a strong first
step towards regional marketing efforts.
But beyond that… we will be reaching aggressively into new markets
in Asia… markets that the rest of the world is also courting. We
will sell our advantage as the gateway between America and Asia…
the conduit of opportunity as American companies seek to invest in them
and they seek to invest in America. As these negotiations become more
tangible, I will come before this body to update you on our efforts. However,
I assure you that we will be in a far greater position to open new tourism
and trade opportunities than ever before. And while the increase in visitor
arrivals may seem ambitious… I assure you that as a result of my
discussions with new markets in Asia, those numbers seem conservative.
There are tremendous opportunities for growth.
My Administration is working with the University of Guam and Asian countries
to develop professional certification and continuing education programs
for foreign students and professionals. Already, we have developed the
possibility of bringing nurses from the Peoples Republic of China to help
prepare them to take the U.S. NCLEX nursing test. We will do the same
for the CPA test. Our “education industry” takes advantage
of our U.S. accreditation, student visas and our proximity to China.
Over the next four months, will reach out directly to the decision makers
in the industries we are trying to expand or develop. And I will be calling
on some of you to join me to make our case, just as my Administration
has called upon you to help with our privatization and reorganization
With regard to the military--The work done by my Administration and first
planted by the Chamber of Commerce to bring the military back continues
to bear fruit.
We seek greater military presence in two forms… increased port
visits and home porting. Our task is to recapture previous levels in a
way that brings stability back to our economy… and serves local
and national interest.
Already, the Port Authority has released the RFP for the A&E design
work for the Wharf expansion. This work will show a clear commitment on
our part to prepare for increased military activity, even as it opens
up new economic opportunities for our Port.
Next month, I am attending the National Governor’s Association
meeting to strengthen our relationships with state governments. This powerful,
collective voice speaks to many of the same issues we confront in our
individual economies… most especially unfunded federal mandates.
Already, my recent trip to our nation’s capitol has gained us valuable
congressional allies in our efforts to seek Congressional relief from
restrictive visa regulations. Expanding this network of friends will only
help improve our presence in Washington. President Bush was also a Governor,
and faced many of the same challenges Governors throughout the nation
continue to confront.
I will also be traveling to Asia to strengthen our relationship with
our core markets in Japan, Korea and Taiwan. These markets have not only
produced a steady flow of visitors to our island, but have also created
some of our most successful local businesses. Many individuals from these
markets are today active members of this very Chamber… and I will
ask them to join me in my travels to their homeland to help bring our
message of promise and opportunity.
In the end, we will succeed and there will be receptiveness at the highest
levels in those new markets. If you don’t think about the future,
you cannot have one.
Every one of these initiatives I outlined today has either already occurred
or is already in the process of development, with great promise. These
are not pie-in-the-sky dreams, but real economic opportunities that we
must all prepare for and participate in achieving.
Everything we do, from reducing the cost of government to expanding our
existing economy, to diversify our industries to opening new markets….
affects us all. I call upon you to participate in realizing these ambitious
agendas. In the end, this has never been about saving our government,
but has always been about saving our economy… of which this government
is only a small component.
These are strong steps moving forward in the next few months. Today,
I ask that you all join me in pushing Guam towards a brighter tomorrow.
We have only begun to scratch the surface of what we can achieve if we
just work together.
For a while, this island: our people our economy has suffered. Let us
continue to work at succeeding.
Life being what it is, we are all going to take a fall at some point.
The trick, then, is not in never falling, the trick is in getting back
up when you do.
Thank you. God bless and Good Afternoon.
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