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Fitial seeks mediated settlement to dispute

By Gemma Q. Casas

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, June 15, 2009) – Governor Benigno R. Fitial says the Retirement Fund is double-charging the cash-strapped CNMI government as he disclosed that the administration will appeal any court ruling that will further worsen the commonwealth’s financial condition.

"They want assets as part of the settlement," Fitial told the Variety, referring to the Retirement Fund whose board chairman is running for governor. "They also want us to pay the employer’s rate of 37.39 percent. They are double-charging us."

"Don’t sacrifice the education and health of our people," Fitial added

The Fund won by default its lawsuit against the government which owes the agency over $200 million in unpaid employer contributions and over $500 in unfunded liabilities.

The Superior Court will soon rule on the payment terms.

Fitial said even if the central government wants to pay, it just doesn’t have enough funds to settle its debts.

He said the Fund should enter into a mediation process with the government.

"I wrote them [Fund officials] to get together with the Legislature to work on a solution to this problem," he said.

But Fund Chairman Juan T. Guerrero earlier told the Variety the retirees didn’t want an out of court settlement.

Marianas Variety:

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