CNMI TO CUT GOVERNMENT COSTS BY 20 PERCENT

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Jan. 2) – The Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas administration will reduce government operations by 20 percent this year, a move designed to ease the cash-flow problems of the financially strapped government, Gov. Juan N. Babauta said.

"One of the ways to reduce the size of government is through (workforce) attrition," Babauta said.

The administration plan includes the privatization of the power services of the Commonwealth Utilities Corp., the Government Health and Life Insurance Plan, and the Department of Public Safety’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

The governor said they have drafted legislation that will be submitted to Senate President Paul A. Manglona, R-Rota, and House Speaker Heinz S. Hofschneider, R-Saipan.

Babauta said he will also push for the privatization of the solid waste management program as well as the operation and management of the new sanitary landfill in Marpi.

He said he will re-introduce his $6.572 million Governor’s Education Initiatives which the Legislature did not fund when it passed the Fiscal Year 2003 Budget Act.

"We will identify money for the reintroduction of these initiatives this year," the governor said.

He admitted that the government’s deficit is likely to increase in 2003 if the $19 million for tax refunds and rebates is not released immediately.

He said the amount will compound the government’s obligations that are due for payment by 2003.

"We have a lot of obligations that we cannot meet for sure. There are other expenditures that we need to meet and have to pay them," Babauta said.

But he said the recent influx of tourists was "very significant" and will have a "positive impact" on government revenues. "I am still very optimistic about the future," Babauta said

January 2, 2003

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com 

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