Marianas Variety

SAIPAN, CNMI (, Oct. 19) – The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands secretary of finance says the growing number of exemptions from the austerity holiday law is cutting into the amount of savings that the government could realize from this effort.

"Austerity Lite," as practiced by the acting governor, exempts more medical and public safety staff from the cost-cutting program, including the lt. governor’s chief of staff and legal counsel.

Someone on Capital Hill did not evaluate the entire program very thoroughly before it was implemented, and did not clearly understand or define "essential" services and personnel well, because it still isn’t clear why all assistant attorneys general and administrative positions in the executive suites are exempted.

Is work in the lt. governor’s office so critical that he cannot do without the services of his legal counsel or chief of staff for two days out of the month? Is it really necessary to have all the assistant AGs at their desks, typing briefs and making phone calls every day of the week? Is their service so essential to the conduct of business in the CNMI?

If almost everyone in the public and private sector is tightening his belt in reaction to this significant downturn in the economy, shouldn’t the administration spend a little more time to identify what positions are essential to the delivery of essential public service?

But then again, maybe it knows that the list will probably be much shorter than the one they’ve got now.

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