(BIVN) – Top Hawaiʻi officials shared their thoughts on the “extremely dire” financial situation that the Young Brothers inter-island shiping company finds itself in as a resut of the COVID-19 economy. The company is seeking $25 million in CARES Act funding from the state legislature to sustain operations through December 2020.
During a news conference held on Monday to announce the lifting of the 14-day quarantine for inter-island travelers, a West Hawaiʻi Today news reporter noted that the company’s first phase of service modifications is set to go into effect June 8th, a week before the state legislature is set to reconvene.
“I am working with all of the mayor’s,” answered Governor David Ige. “We all understand the importance of Young Brothers in connecting our islands and being able to efficiently distribute goods all across the state. So, I’m working with the mayor’s and the state administration in DCCA, DBEDT and other appropriate agencies to work with Young Brothers and identify what their situation is and look for various pots of federal money and assistance that we can provide, and state resources if necessary. All of the mayors and all of the elected officials understand that Young Brothers is critical infrastructure that is needed in our community and we are all committed to ensure that they continue to provide service in a way that allows our communities to function moving forward.”
“I would just urge the PUC to act immediately upon this request,” said House Speaker Scott Saiki, “because the PUC is really the entity that needs to provide some guidance on how we need to resolve this issue.”
Public comments are already coming in to the PUC. The PUC says comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, and should reference the May 26, 2020 Young Brothers and/or Consumer Advocate letters.
“As a legislator who represents a neighbor island I am very concerned about the ability to get the goods and services,” said Senate President Ron Kouchi, who is from Kauai. “The only other person reviewing the application would be the consumer advocate, as well as everybody else the governor and the speaker mentioned, and so we’ll look forward to their report. I think the biggest concern, though, is that the CARES money is good till December 31st. What we really need to be sure of is that we invest money into a plan that ensures that that goods and services are going to be delivered to the neighbor islands well beyond December 31st, and that they will be guaranteed that they’ll have service in perpetuity. And that’s certainly one of the big things I’ll be looking for in the review from the PUC and the consumer advocate. What is the long-range plan beyond December 31st?”