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By Nick Legaspi

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (October 16, 1998 - CNMI News On-Line)---The proposed suspension of the five percent annual salary increase is aimed at preventing the dismissal of some government employees to cope with the current economic crisis.

This was learned from Governor Pedro P. Tenorio yesterday as he ordered a freeze on government hiring except for essential positions like those in the hospital and the Department of Public Safety.

"We want to suspend the annual salary increase temporarily until our economy improves because we are concerned that if we continue to increase salaries there will be some very good possibility that there will be some reduction in force," he said in an interview. "It's not fair; I would rather see that people continue to receive their salaries instead of getting an increase and later on they will be out of a job.

"Right now we're trying our best, we continue the austerity measures that I put out since I took office," Tenorio said. "As a matter of fact I just asked my advisor Mike (Sablan) to come up with a memorandum to make sure that any new hire is only for essential services like the hospital, public safety and other areas. Other than that we'll refrain from hiring at this time because of the cash flow problem that we have."

The Governor said the administration and the legislature were looking at other areas to reduce spending, including the possibility of eliminating the 30 percent bonus for employees who retire when they accumulate 20 years of service.

"Originally, I thought the retirement bonus was only for one year," he said. "Unfortunately, it was continued every year."

©1998 CNMI News On-Line, Northern Mariana Islands For more information call Nick Legaspi or Lewy Tenorio at TEL: (670) 234-7239

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