30 Aug 2010

CNMI casino touted as way to save beleaguered economy

3:43 pm on 30 August 2010

The Saipan Casino bill in the Northern Marianas is being touted by the House Speaker as one answer to the Commonwealth's financial woes.

The House of Representatives passed the bill last week and it now goes before the Senate for a vote next month.

The bill comes in the wake of new austerity measures coming into force in October.

Our correspondent Mark Rabago says the House Speaker, Froilan Tenorio, sees this as a way to generate more tourism and government revenue.

"In the face of austerity measures, especially Oct 1, civil service employees, and everybody at the government and executive branch, will be under 16 hour wage cuts every two weeks or every pay period, because of declining revenue. And Tenorio is banking on the introduction of casino gaming to at least give the government extra revenue to close the gap so that they can have the budget to pay their employees."

Mark Rabago says lawmakers appear clearly divided over the bill.