SAIPAN – The CNMI Department of Finance-Division of Revenue and Taxation expressed support for a measure that would allow the department to issue temporary business licenses to businesses that participate in public or community events.
Authored by Rep. Sheila Babauta, House Bill 21-87 allows for the issuance of a temporary business license valid for not more than 30 consecutive days, and is neither transferable nor subject for renewal. It also requires that the license fee “shall be established by regulation promulgated by the secretary of Finance.”
During the House session on Thursday, Revenue and Taxation Director Tracy D. Norita told lawmakers that H.B. 21-87 would allow the government to “respond to the changing business environment in the commonwealth and allow flexibility when determining a reasonable fee for a specific business activity.”
She said the issuance of a temporary business license would address the needs of business owners who want to participate in short-term activities that benefit the community.
Also attending the House session was Revenue and Taxation business license officer Pam Halstead.
In an interview, Babauta said it is important to support the various agencies of the executive branch because “we all share in the success of our government, as one commonwealth.”
H.B. 21-87, she added, would 1) allow the Department of Finance to establish business license fees by regulation, “ensuring that we match the current economic state of the CNMI,” and 2) issue temporary business licenses to support short-term business opportunities such as fairs and festivals.
“Right now, we have to change the law every time we need to update the business license fees, and if you wanted to be a vendor at the Flame Tree Arts Festival — a three-day event — you have to apply and pay for an annual business license fee because temporary business licenses are just not available. We want to support all those who choose to do business in the CNMI, most especially our local businesses,” Babauta said.
She said she is thankful to Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig “for demonstrating strong leadership abilities by seeking feedback from his staff.”
“Feedback is a gift, and this was feedback from Pam Halstead, the current business license officer and an employee of Rev and Tax for over 20 years. We must always seek feedback from our team members — listen, and take them into serious consideration, weigh the costs and the benefits. The benefits definitely outweigh the costs in this situation, and it just makes sense,” Babauta said.