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    Saturday, May 25, 2019-11:00:10P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Saipan mayor: No to new retirement-fund bill

SAIPAN Mayor David M. Apatang said House Bill 21-1, which would establish a new retirement system for the Commonwealth government employees, should be shelved.

“We are not out of the woods (or more like ‘thorny’ thicket) and we want to deal with another burden that would surely increase our already very significant financial liability,” the mayor said in his letter to the House Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations chaired by Rep. Joel C. Camacho.

Apatang said the bill is the exact replica of H.B. 20-157, previously introduced in the Legislature but “did not get to first base.”

He added, “We are curious to know why the [new] bill is before your committee when its likeness did not go anywhere. Obvious to anyone is that our tourism and casino industries have not stabilized to a point where we can commit to long-term obligations.”

The mayor said the government should be cautious before committing to long-term obligations that could “greatly impact the CNMI’s still very limited resources.”

“Let us remind ourselves that our defined contribution retirement fund system headed south not because of the way the law was structured, but because of some other reasons that we literally had control over,” he said, referring to the CNMI government’s failure to make timely payments to the Retirement Fund due to the economic slowdown.

Apatang said the government should not “repeat a mistake that almost put [our] own people out on the streets.”

He said “we cannot afford to let ourselves be suckered into another undertaking that, at this point, considering our financial instability, will weigh us and surely this time settle us at the bottom of an abyss without any hope of rescue.”