27 Dec 2007

CNMI's Senate President critical of government plans to use funding for Saipan workers

11:41 am on 27 December 2007

The CNMI's Senate President, Joseph Mendiola, says he takes issue with a plan by Saipan lawmakers to use local funds to save the jobs of Saipan government employees being laid off.

Mr Mendiola, who is from Tinian, says it is a divisive approach to the problem.

He told the Saipan Tribune he doesn't like the idea of funding the individual islands and besides Tinian and Rota are more economically disadvantaged than Saipan.

The Senate leader says the government should cooperate to address the funding shortage on a Commonwealth-wide basis, rather than transferring the responsibility to the leaders of the respective islands.

He suggests the Legislature as a whole revisit the governor's proposals, including the reduced retirement contribution, unpaid holidays, and reprogramming of earmarked funds.

Governor Fitial announced on Friday that Saipan employees would be spared from the planned layoff, as the island's lawmakers pledged to raise funds for their salaries.

The Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation is expected to act next week on a bill to reprogramme 2.5 million dollars from recent appropriations to keep the employees on the payroll.