From Pacific Islands Development Program/East-West
With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies/University of Hawai'i
By Jayvee Vallejera
SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (August 14, 2002 -- Saipan Tribune)---The Babauta administration has made available some $150,000 in a revolving fund from which Rota farmers and fishermen can borrow money from to bring them back to their feet after the onslaught of Typhoon Chata'an.
The Rota Legislative Delegation signed the documents yesterday afternoon, affecting the transfer of the funds to the Agricultural Revolving Fund, which is under the Department of Commerce in Rota.
"As Gov. Babauta had promised to help the people of Rota, today he makes good on that promise, as we sign the documents to have this funding available to our farmers and fishermen in Rota," said delegation chairman Sen. Ricardo S. Atalig.
Consultant Adam Turner, who helped put together this package, explained that the money was sourced from unused federal grant funds. With yesterday's signing, he said it would take up to two weeks before people can actually apply for loans.
"This package was really the initiative of the Rota delegation and Gov. Babauta, who were both concerned over finding ways to assist the people of Rota in terms of local funding," said Turner.
Atalig said the money that farmers and fishermen will borrow from this fund will be used to buy seeds, fertilizers, nets, fishing boats -- stuff that would help them recover from the destruction caused by Chata'an on the agricultural sector.
As to the mechanics of the loans -- how much can be loaned, the payment scheme, how soon will one start paying -- and the process in obtaining the funds, Atalig explained that these will be based on the rules and regulations as set forth in Public Law 3-54, which created the Agricultural Revolving Fund.
That fund has already been depleted but, with the infusion of the new $150,000, Atalig said this will hopefully jumpstart the Fund and efforts can be done to keep this liquid for future needs of the agricultural sector in Rota.
Turner explained that this funding is separate from the federal funds that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is going to provide for Rota and other possible sources of micro-loans that will be available to the people of Rota.