Inos Lifts Government Hiring Freeze In CNMI

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Governor still expects departments to hire responsibly

By Haidee V. Eugenio

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, April 23, 2013) – Governor Eloy S. Inos lifted all the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands government hiring freezes he implemented since February but expects that only qualified individuals will be hired through proper procedures.

Some lawmakers, meanwhile, have been proposing to leave vacant fulltime employee positions unless they are deemed critical or essential, to be able to funnel more funds to the NMI Retirement Fund, among other agencies.

"Although the hiring freeze is lifted, I expect all department heads and agencies to comply with applicable statutes and regulations in hiring the most qualified individuals through the proper procedures," Inos said in an April 8 directive, a copy of which was obtained yesterday.

On Feb. 22, Inos issued his first directive as governor issuing a freeze on all hiring.

About a month later or on March 15, he partially lifted the hiring freeze but continued the temporary prohibition on salary changes, reallocations, and reclassifications.

This was followed by the total lifting of the hiring freeze and other prohibitions on April 8.

The governor has yet to submit his fiscal year 2014 budget proposal to the Legislature as of yesterday.

Representative Tony Sablan (IR-Saipan), House Ways and Means Committee chairman, said yesterday that the governor's constant communication with the Legislature about projected revenues, proposed cost-cutting measures, and revenue-generating bills will make the process of passing a new budget bill smoother.

"Right now we're just waiting for the actual budget submission. The Legislature and the administration agree that we need to both come up with revenue generating bills and cut costs so we can save the Fund and other agencies. I don't think the budget process will be delayed," he said.

The administration expects a $120-million budget package, up from the earlier projection of $114 million.

The governor has until May 1 to submit his budget to the Legislature.

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