The year ahead

January 3, 2020

 

 2020 will be a year of optimism and anxiety. If nothing impedes the Department of Defense’s schedule, the Marines from Okinawa would begin arriving on Guam “in the first half of the 2020s.” This is the advent of a new era. We brace ourselves for the dread of a population surge, not to mention the occasional clash between the military and the civilian community.  

 

But as far as the local economists and industry stakeholders are concerned, everything will be just fine in 2020. Their projections may be quite conservative, but encouraging just the same.

 

Our cover story tackles Guam’s economy, which, according to government economist Gary Hiles, is positioned for continued and likely increasing modest growth in 2020 and 2021. “There are leading indications that the three primary sources of inflows of funds to Guam from tourism, federal expenditures, and construction capital investment are likely to simultaneously increase up to and during the outlook period,” Hiles said.

 

In this issue, we also covered the opening of Guam’s first adoption agency, which hopes to find homes for Guam’s homeless children and provide a “compassionate choice” for young mothers who are not ready to raise a family. No matter where you stand on the abortion debate, having another option has its own value.

 

As local leaders discuss the possibility of either renovating the oft-maligned Guam Memorial Hospital or build a new medical facility, Dr. Vincent Akimoto further diagnosed the ills inflicting the government hospital, while former GMH CEO Theodore Lewis compared its performance and operation with the Guam Regional Medical City.

 

As Guam voters get ready for yet another election this year, community activist Ken Leon Guerrero explained why the people of Guam should not “fear” placing their bets on political newcomers. You’ll never know, he said, they might just be right people Guam has been waiting for.

 

The island is going green. We are expected this year to start getting used to bringing our own bag to the grocery store before the plastic ban is implemented in 2021. Meanwhile, Guam has set an ambitious goal as it joins other cities in the world that have envisioned a future, where every rooftop glistens with solar panels. Generating power from 100 percent renewable energy is an achievable goal, according to Micronesian Renewable Energy.

 

While the nation’s capital is engulfed in talks about President Trump’s impeachment, our neighbor, the CNMI, is dealing with its own political turmoil. The Minority Bloc in the CNMI House of Representatives is currently reviewing its plan to introduce articles of impeachment against Gov. Ralph Torres, who is under federal investigation for money laundering, fraud and illegal political campaign contribution.

 Our sister territory, American Samoa, is locked in a legal battle to defend its identity and keep its distance from the American system. A federal judge in Utah ruled that American Samoans are U.S. citizens at birth but local officials maintain their status as “U.S. nationals” is perfectly OK.

 

Perhaps, the biggest news on this side of the world is the impending birth of a new nation. Bougainville has voted for independence from Papua New Guinea in a nonbinding referendum that will be decided through a consultation process happening this year. So all eyes now turn to the consultation process.

 

And for everyone else, 2020 is a personal matter. We pause and reflect. We rekindle thoughts of our personal successes, seek to have learned from our failures and challenges we have overcome, and hope for a better life in the coming year.

 

 Happy New Year!

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