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SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (October 23, 2001 – Saipan Tribune)---House Speaker Benigno R. Fitial hailed congressional passage of legislation that will provide the CNMI with $2 million in urgently needed federal assistance.

The funding, which is part of the fiscal year 2002 Interior Appropriation Act, is designated for compact-impact aid.

Fitial was the first to announce the increased aid last week.

"I am pleased that both the House and Senate have agreed to increase assistance to the CNMI during this time of economic crisis. I am grateful that I was able to play a part in convincing them to help the CNMI when we need it most," said Fitial.

Compact-impact aid is given to territories that must bear the costs of increased migration from Micronesia (Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Palau) because of the Compacts of Free Association.

While Guam is the largest recipient of such assistance, the CNMI received $1 million in compact-impact in fiscal year 2001.

With enactment of the Interior Appropriations Bill, the CNMI will receive $2 million in the next fiscal year.

"The CNMI is a self-sufficient territory. We will continue to be self-sufficient if we make the right decisions with respect to our local economy.

"We must create more jobs that pay good wages. We must attract more investment. However, it is important that we have relationships in Washington, D.C. to help us when we, like any other state in the mainland, face economic hardship," Fitial pointed out.

For additional reports from The Saipan Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Saipan Tribune.

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