A fishing company which has been operating in Palau for years is backing one of the proposed bill calling for a delay in the implementation of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary(PNMS), citing that the law is sending a message to foreign investors that their investments “are not safe here.”
Palau International Traders Incorporated (PITI) in a January 9 letter to Senator Frank Kyota, Chair of the Senate Committee on Resources, Commerce, Trade and Development (RCTD), submitted its comments about the two bills pending before the panel that both propose a deferment in the implementation of the PNMS.
Through his lawyer Kevin Kirk, PITI said, as a foreign investor which has been operating a business in Palau since 1984, that the implementation of the PNMS by January 1, 2020 will be forced to shut down its business despite being a good corporate citizen for almost 35 years.
“But the message the current law sent, not only to PITI but also to others who have invested and planning to invest large sums of money in Palau, is that their investments are not safe here and that their commitment to Palau is unappreciated.”
In the letter, PITI said it has been preparing for a shut down once the PNMS is in place but the 10-year delay would give them enough time for the company to continue to conduct their business.
It also highlighted the revenue loss in Palau’s economy once PITI closes down its business as a result of the PNMS.
According to the letter, in 2018, PITI paid approximately $260,000 in fishing fees and another $600,000 in fish exports taxes. It added that it also purchased $1.7 million in fuel, $230,000 in payroll and another $100,000 in Gross revenue tax (GRT), social security and healthcare fund taxes.
“These direct contributions by PITI employees and the crews of its fishing vessels themselves spend in local businesses. “ the letter cited.
PITI is urging the Senate extending the wind down period of the PNMS to at least 10 years.
The company said the implementation would also affect airlines operating in Palau that derive revenues from outbound freight especially from fish or tuna being exported from the country.
PITI said under its foreign investment certificate it has 15 years left to operate in Palau and urges the Senate to extend the transition period to enable to utilize all the period it was granted to do business here.
‘Senator, again, the Senate is urged to pass a bill that will allow PITI, a long standing and loyal corporate citizen of Palau to conduct the activities it was promised in 1984 it could conduct for a period it was promised to conduct its activities,” PITI stated. (Bernadette H. Carreon)