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Action necessary to prevent layoffs

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, July 31, 2008) – To prevent layoffs, the Tinian municipal government has cut down the working hours of its personnel from 72 to 64.

Tinian municipal employees are directly paid from the revenue collected from the island’s sole casino operator, the Tinian Dynasty Casino & Hotel.

However, because of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands’ (CNMI’s) worsening economic crisis and soaring gasoline prices, Tinian’s revenue collection continues to decline, affecting the municipality’s ability to pay its personnel.

The government is the main employer of residents in the CNMI.

Variety learned that for this pay period, Tinian’s municipal treasury does not have enough funds for payday, which is scheduled for Friday.

The municipality has about 80 employees and needs some $120,000 for their salaries.

As of yesterday, however, Variety learned that the municipal government had only about $20,000.

But the mayor’s office is optimistic that it can release the employees’ paychecks on time.

Variety learned that the collections from the casino are usually remitted on the 7th of each month and the Tinian Dynasty is diligent in paying its obligations.

According to John Untalan, the chief executive officer of Mayor Jose P. San Nicolas, who has been off-island since last week, the municipality always pays its employees on time and has even issued checks in advance in several occasions.

According to Untalan, the mayor’s office is not aware of any shortage of funds for personnel.

"We never miss payroll and I am not aware of any [funding] problems," he added.

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