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Editorials | ‘Nothing’ action/Crossfire

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‘Nothing’ action

REMEMBER the four-day online Fiscal Response Summit? It was held a few weeks ago. Yes, that long ago.  Its aim was “to address the size and urgency of the current crisis,” and to “achieve consensus on a fiscal response package,” including cost-cutting measures and tax/fee hikes. These, of course, require legislative action. But so far, as of press time Thursday evening, there had been no word about the introduction of bills that would improve the government’s financial condition. Everyone, it seems, is against “overspending” and “budget deficits”; and everyone is for “fiscal responsibility” and “spending within our means.” But so far in this election year, it seems that no one wants to put their money where their mouth is. What a surprise. 

Meanwhile, to assure us that they are “doing something” about the government’s financial crisis, some lawmakers will, now and then, “express concern” about IPI’s “failure to pay what it owes the CNMI government.” But that’s all they have been “doing” all this time. Expressing grave concern. Yet up to now no one really knows how much does IPI actually owe — compared to what we insist it should owe. Up to now, moreover, no one among the “concerned” lawmakers (and they’re all concerned) has introduced legislation to revoke IPI’s license or repeal the casino law or take IPI to court — among several other possible measures that someone who is truly concerned about this issue should propose “in black and white” as they say.

It is said that in ancient Rome, the rulers kept the public happy with bread and circuses. Today in the NMI, it seems that “expressions of concern” and “calls for oversight hearings” will do the trick.

Crossfire

THE “influx” of federal emergency funds has somewhat eased the pressure on the CNMI government. There are now talks of paying what it owes and reopening its offices that were shut down by the Covid-19 directives. Many are also hoping that the government will lift some, if not most, of the restrictions it imposed on business activities in March. Moreover, the administration is working with public health experts and the business community to finalize a plan to reopen the islands to tourists.

Around the world, doctors and scientists are racing to develop vaccines. Moderna, a Massachusetts-based biotech company, made headlines recently for its coronavirus vaccine development. In the UK, Oxford University scientists say their vaccine could be ready by fall.

This is all good, but there could be another dark cloud in the horizon. No, we’re not referring to the typhoon season which starts in July. We’re talking about this year’s U.S. presidential election. According to CNN, an official “familiar with Trump’s reelection message” said that China is pretty much the main campaign theme. President Trump now calls his presumptive Democratic opponent “Beijing Biden” who, in turn, has accused his Republican rival of “rolling over for the Chinese.”

Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that the “Pandemic Makes U.S.-China Economic Breakup More Likely, U.S. Businesses in China Say.” Last week, Foreign Policy magazine stated that U.S. “lawmakers and administration officials are mulling a raft of measures to cleave parts of the two largest economies in the world: Bans on a wide variety of sensitive exports, additional tariffs on Chinese goods, forced reshoring of U.S. companies, even pulling out of the World Trade Organization altogether….”

The NMI’s struggling economy, which caters to Chinese tourists and investors, may soon find itself caught in the partisan crossfire.

 

 

 

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