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80 percent of $2 million budget goes to payroll

By Emmanuel T. Erediano SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, May 7, 2010) – In the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), the biggest chunk of casino revenue is "devoured" by a few people on the Tinian Gaming Control Commission, according to a former resident director of the Department of Commerce.

Norbert U. Hofschneider, in an e-mail interview yesterday, said he is urging government leaders to look into the commission’s budget before thinking of cutting the salaries of civil service employees.

Citing the late former Senate President Joaquin G. Adriano’s legacy of allowing the people to come first, Hofschneider said the people must voice out their concerns.

Hofschneider said the casino on Tinian pumps close to half a million dollars per quarter into the government’s coffers.

Of the gaming commission’s annual budget of over US$2 million, 80 percent goes to its 25 employees, 10 of whom are earning US$70,000 to US$110,000 a year, he added.

He said the people of Tinian should realize that the casino revenue is intended for scholarships, medical assistance and other public service programs — not for the few politically favored people.

"I am not being the bad guy here, but sometimes it takes the people’s voice to break through the political barrier that serves as a haven for selfish politicians. Time is critical and everyone must make sacrifices," Hofschneider said.

By making the necessary cuts, he said, the government will be able to accommodate the island’s scholars.

Tinian Mayor Ramon M. Dela Cruz, in an earlier interview, said the salaries of the Tinian gaming commission officials are set by law.

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