Speaker Attao: Fiscal summit tackled ‘really big issues’

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FOLLOWING the online Fiscal Response Summit, Speaker Blas Jonathan T. Attao shared a few of his thoughts regarding the financial challenges facing the CNMI.

He noted that the five-day summit tried to “tackle really, really big issues.” 

He said a majority of the ideas presented during the summit will require legislation.

“When we became a Commonwealth [in 1978], we were dependent on the statutes that were presented…to develop ourselves as a government, I believe that the intent was to kind of phase them out….”

He added, “Unfortunately, some [of those] statutes are [still] existing…. I always mentioned this when we first came into office as the 21st Legislature. We visited departments and agencies, and we were asking for the enabling legislation that created them in the first place, to revisit that, and see what is effective for them and what is not effective.”

He said during those discussions, the legislators encouraged departments and agencies to take a look at what needs to change through the statutes. The goal, he added, is to “give them more flexibility, rather than them coming up to the Legislature for a [new] piece of legislation.”

Speaker Attao said, “On the legislative side, there is a lot of stuff that has to be done…but nothing can be done overnight. The plan is to [implement changes in the next] three years, or maybe even four or five years. We cannot just do everything up front because the impact on the economy is going to be drastic.”

Attao said, “The great thing about the summit is that it included the business sector, the nonprofit organizations, and other affected entities in the Commonwealth. So we shared our ideas. We presented numbers…so we can see everything. For the most part, there are acceptable changes down the road.”

Speaker Attao thanked the administration, Graduate School USA, and all who were involved in putting the summit together, as well as its participants.

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