Governor tells Kilili: ‘I’m confident in our collective ability to overcome this challenge’

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“THIS is undoubtedly a challenging time for our Commonwealth,” Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said in a letter Wednesday to U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan. “However, I am confident in our collective ability to overcome this challenge and ensure that the delivery of essential public services will continue to be met for the benefit of the people of the Commonwealth.”

Kilili earlier suggested that the governor request President Donald Trump to make a disaster declaration for the CNMI.

On March 3, 2020, the governor said, “I wrote to President Trump to inform him of the impending crisis in the CNMI that is being driven by the dramatic effects of the Covid-19 outbreak and sought his assistance to mobilize federal resources to aid the CNMI government in its response to this pandemic.”

On March 13, 2020, Torres said, “In response to my communication and pursuant to the Nationwide Emergency Declaration issued by the President, the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, was authorized to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the designated areas. Specifically, FEMA has been authorized to provide emergency protective measures (Category B) not authorized under other federal statutes, including direct federal assistance, under the Public Assistance program at 75 percent federal funding.”

By way of the presidential declaration, the governor said, “FEMA Region IX Administrator Robert Fenton was directed to inform me that the President’s declaration covers all areas in the CNMI affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, I am pleased to inform you that we have already started working closely with FEMA since March 13 to access all the federal resources available to the CNMI pursuant to the presidential declaration, including my request for the mobilization of the Incident Management Action Team…to assist the CNMI in its emergency protective measures and response coordination to combat Covid-19.”

Kilili also suggested that the governor request Economic Injury Disaster Loan or EIDL Declarations from the U.S. Small Business Administration as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that President Trump signed into law on March 6.

On March 13, Torres said, “I wrote to SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza and requested her assistance to make EIDL loans available to small businesses and non-profit organizations in the CNMI. In response to my request to Ms. Carranza, SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance has been working in coordination with my chief of staff to reach out to our business community to fulfill the eligibility requirement of submitting EIDL worksheets from small businesses and non-profit organizations.”

The governor said he is pleased to inform Kilili “that my office has already engaged our business community through organizations such as the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, the Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Northern Marianas Business Alliance Corporation. Affected businesses are now completing the required worksheets and, upon submission to my office, these worksheets will be submitted to SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance for review and approval.”

The governor said he is “looking forward to this much needed access to disaster loan assistance to be made available to our small businesses and non-profit organizations. Whole-of-government efforts being put forward by the Trump administration in this time of great need will help fragile economies like ours minimize economic disruption as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

He added, “With our brothers and sisters in Guam already experiencing the impact of this global pandemic, the full effort of this government has been placed on the safety and health of our people, especially those most vulnerable to this disease. As we continue our preemptive measures to strengthen our healthcare system, please be aware that recommendations of the CNMI government as to the economic and fiscal needs in the aftermath of Covid-19’s deep impact on our economy are forthcoming.”

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