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"No way to escape Wall Street meltdown"

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, January, 30, 2009) – The Retirement Fund’s investment assets went down by 23 percent last year, according to the agency’s Administrator Mark A. Aguon.

In an interview yesterday, Aguon said since the Retirement Fund’s investments are in the stock market, there is no way to escape the financial crisis the U.S. is experiencing now.

During a recent presentation attended by about 30 people, the Retirement Fund discussed the agency’s financial condition.

From fiscal years 2007 to 2008, the Retirement Fund said its assets dropped from $510 million to $396 million.

Aguon said the Retirement Fund cannot make a projection because "nobody has a crystal ball here."

But he said a lot of indicators are pointing downward as the U.S. economy continues to slow down.

The expenditures of the Retirement Fund for fiscal year 2008 totaled $76,894,577, of which over $51 million went to pensions; $5.2 million to survivors; $1.8 million to disability checks; and $1.9 million to health insurance as mandated by Public Law 8-31.

The total revenue sources amounted to $34.3 million, the largest portion of which was the $30.7 million from employer contributions while $2.2 million came from local investments.

The government’s employer contribution deficiency, however, totaled $165.2 million.

The $51 million government contribution in 2006 went down to only $35 million last year.

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