16 May 2008

US lawmakers support aid requests fron CNMI and American Samoa

9:28 am on 16 May 2008

Fourteen U.S. lawmakers have expressed their support for an aid request from the CNMI and American Samoa.

The lawmakers have called on congressional leaders to approve an emergency supplemental appropriation of $15 million each requested by the Northern Marianas and American Samoa.

They also call for a delay in the minimum wage hikes in American Samoa from every year to every two years, and to allow increases only if the U.S. Labour secretary finds that they would not hurt employment in the islands

The next 50-cent hike will apply on May 26, 2008. The minimum wage will increase yearly until it reaches the federal level of $7.25 an hour.

American Samoa and the Northern Marianas plan to use the money to maintain public services, provide incentives to American Samoa's tuna industry and the CNMI's tourism industry, and offer emergency financial relief to affected employers

The original position of the CNMI and American Samoa governments was to oppose any further hikes to the local minimum wage, now at $3.55 an hour. Seeing that Congress would not amend the federal wage law, the two governments called for the federal aid which they said would cushion the impact of the wage increase on their economies.