Guam – In response to Governor Edward J. B. Calvo’s veto of Bill 36-31, the Government of Guam Mitigation Program for Business Interruption, Senator Ben Pangelinan states in a release: “The veto looks to be more of a personal jab at me rather a thoughtful review of legislation that will provide assistance to the small businesses affected by the road construction projects around the island”.
“Governor Calvo, as a businessman himself, should understand the importance of providing assistance to our small businesses, especially when it comes to events that are out of these business owners’ control and hinders their ability to continue to operate,” further stated the Senator. “I will work with my colleagues at the Legislature to correct this injustice to our small business community on Guam. I am certain that we can come to a consensus and provide the much needed assistance to our small businesses. They are the backbone of our economy and should not be overlooked.”
Bill 36-31 not only provides a loan program for businesses with annual revenues of less than $1,000,000, but also provides a grant program for businesses with annual revenues of less than $200,000. The direct goal of Bill 36-31 was to provide assistance to those businesses affected by road construction projects. In his news release of the veto, Governor Calvo stated that GEDA already offers micro-loans through their Micro-Loan Program, however, the eligibility criteria does not cover small businesses struggling to survive, which Bill 36 aims to help. The federal grants awarded to GEDA for the Micro-Loan Program may not even allow loans to small businesses on the verge of closing down or filing bankruptcy, which is where these small businesses find themselves due to the damage done to them by the government’s failure to properly plan on these construction projects. It requires collateral, two written bank declinations, a business plan, and does not provide a grant program. The veto message also cites false and incorrect interpretations of the legislation such as not having a valid funding source and requiring GEDA to purchase insurance as reasons for the veto. Both of these statements are inconsistent with the bill, which appropriates $400,000 from the GEDA running fund balance of over $1.1 million and that GEDA MAY purchase business interruption insurance.
“Governor Calvo should understand that the GEDA Micro-Loan Program does not have the same goals as Bill 36-31. He should have more sympathy for our small business community as they are struggling to make ends meet every single day. I am hopeful my colleagues will support the families of these business owners and their employees. I will be seeking legislative override and provide the facts to the support this action,” stated the pro-small business Senator from Barrigada.