15 Dec 2010

Northern Marianas under cash shortage strain

9:40 pm on 15 December 2010

The Northern Marianas acting finance secretary, Connie Agulto, has told lawmakers the government collected less than half its expected monthly income in the first two months of the 2011 fiscal year.

The severe cash shortage is causing delays in wage payments to some governrment workers, despite earlier cutbacks in hours worked and the forcing of employees to take unpaid holidays.

The finance secretary says government workers will not be paid again this week and will have to wait until next week.

Only federally funded workers or those in critical positions such as police officers, firefighters, doctors and nurses will receive their pay on time.

Projected revenue for fiscal year 2011 is down to US$132 million-an average of $33 million a quarter or $11 million a month.

The CNMI government had budgetted for income of 11 million US dollars each month but it has earned just over five million in each of the past two months.