July 22, 2009

By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press

Pohnpei's Governor John Ehsa has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Unicorn Star International Holdings Limited (USIHL), a subsidiary of Hotung International Group. USIHL has expressed interest in investing in a premier hotel/resort complex in Pohnpei.

Section 7-125(a) of Title 37 of the Pohnpei Code codifies the development of a premier hotel/resort complex at Lukop, Madolehihmw as the first of five of its specifically named priority economic development projects for the State of Pohnpei.

The other four projects named in the Pohnpei Code include a light industrial park in Palikir, Sokehs, a Five star hotel complex in Kolonia, coconut products development complex in Pohnlangas, Madolehihmw, and projects within the Planned Development Zone at Dekehtik, Nett. Many of these priorities have been on the books for several years.

According to the MOU, USIHL is interested in developing a major resort/hotel and casino in Lukop, Madolehihmw, Pohnpei. Governor's office representatives said that the plot of land being offered by the State for the project is public land (plot number 069-D-01)

The MOU says that its intent is to facilitate the development of a hotel/resort, duty free, and casino at Lukop while also "addressing the potential social, cultural, and environmental impact of such a development in Pohnpei."

By signing the MOU as both parties did in Taiwan on June 25, Governor Ehsa has agreed to submit to the Pohnpei Legislature by December 15, 2009, an omnibus development statute for the development of the hotel and casino on the public land in Lukop. The hotel and casino would be no smaller than 1000 rooms and would be constructed in three phases. The bill Ehsa has agreed to submit to the Legislature would provide USIHL an exclusive casino gambling license and would also provide for regulation of the activities of the development including gambling activities.

Pohnpei State Public Affairs officer Hainrich Stevenson said that the governor's office will be commissioning a study on the impacts of such a project and will incorporate the findings into any proposed omnibus bill.

From an outsiders point of view the MOU is not clear on who would be building the resort. Stevenson said that the foreign investor would be responsible for that.

If the submitted bill passes the Pohnpei Legislature, Ehsa and USIHL will enter into negotiations for a detailed MOU involving the construction and management of the proposed "Micronesian Tourism Complex."

The MOU is active for 18 months. If the terms are not met by that time the MOU will be terminated. The MOU was signed by both parties inTaiwan on June 25 of this year.