Marianas Variety

SAIPAN, CNMI (Jan. 29, 2010) - IT seems that in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) the House speaker’s role in this new old regime is to be the bearer of bad news and the enforcer of unpopular measures — all sanctioned by the governor, of course.

Hence, this eagerness to reward a Covenant supporter with the Legislative Bureau (LB) director’s post, and the brazen announcement regarding another increase in fees on top of government pay cuts.

Now why should a supposedly "pro-business" ruling party want to raise, yet again, the cost of doing business in an economy that has shown no signs of improvement under four years of Covenant misrule? It is as if the long-suffering consumers and companies are expected to show more appreciation for the privilege of conducting business that generates revenue for the operations of this bloated, overpaid and incompetent government.

Few people would complain about raising fees and taxes if only their government would provide what the community expects in return: public service. They wouldn’t mind to see their fees and taxes go to Commonwealth Health Center (CHC) so it can hire physicians and technical staff, purchase medical supplies and equipment, among other things that will improve healthcare in the CNMI. The public, moreover, would not complain if fees and taxes are used to upgrade the look of the Garapan district and complement the improvements put in the ground by the previous governor.

As it stands, however, taxpayers are fed up with increases whose goal is to put more employees on government dole.

The administration’s original FY 2010 budget proposal amounts to US$150 million, most of which will fund the salaries of non-essential government employees. Now the Covenant House wants to raise the budget by another US$5 million, most likely to hire more non-essential employees.

This tax-and-hire policy will further increase the size of government at the expense of essential services while dragging the economy down, if that is still possible.

Is this what the people of the CNMI want?

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