Sen. Manglona seeks update on unemployment assistance

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SENATOR Paul A. Manglona, the lone minority member in the upper house, is asking the administration for an update on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation payments for qualified CNMI residents.

In his letter to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, the senator said he knows the government has been “inundated with calls from our constituents and are feeling the pressure from our people’s frustration on the delayed unemployment payments especially in the midst of our island lockdowns and fresh warnings from public health officials that the pandemic, which has claimed over 85,000 lives in the U.S. remains a major risk.”

Paul A. Manglona

Manglona said even the unprecedented fiscal response of the federal government to the Covid-19 pandemic “has been encountering many problems that highlight the difficulty of getting money to the unemployed who need it to ride out the crisis.” The exact number of people still waiting nationwide for their unemployment benefits cannot be accurately determined mainly because of the high volume of claims still flowing into overloaded systems, he added.

This is not good news for the CNMI, the senator said.

“The shortcomings in the nation’s unemployment insurance system will undoubtedly affect our local distribution timeframe. This is alarming. Aside from exacerbating our people’s cash shortages, the longer people go without any income, the deeper they sink into debt, leaving them in financial ruts that can take years to overcome,” he added.

“I understand that you are doing everything you can in the face of an unprecedented situation. But in light of our nation’s shortcomings discussed above and reading that more than half of the applicants in the U.S. mainland are still waiting for their money, it is important that the CNMI stay ahead of the ball. Therefore, I kindly ask that you provide us with an update on the status or progress of the implementation of PUA and FPUC for CNMI residents. Additionally, we appreciate any recommendations you may have for legislative action in assisting with the program’s implementation and execution so as to prevent further delays in the distribution of benefits,” Manglona said.

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