Local Economy In CNMI Needs To Be Improved To Withstand Trump Administration
Federal assistance likely to drop in coming years
By Emmanuel T. Erediano
SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, March 21, 2017) – Further improving the local economy should be the CNMI’s response to the funding cuts that the Trump administration has proposed, Tan Holdings Corp. president Jerry Tan said.
“We have no control over what Washington, D.C. wants to do in terms of cutting the budget for programs or grants, but I think we do have control over how we should continue to develop our local economy, creating jobs and generating more revenue,” he added.
The Torres administration said it “understands that the president’s budget proposal has been transmitted to Congress, which is a deliberative body composed of various stakeholders who will be expressing their opinions on the president’s submission. The CNMI, just like the states and other territories, intends to do the same.”
The administration added, “We will be working with U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan’s office to outline our priorities and issues so that key federal programs continue to address our commonwealth’s needs.”
Gov. Ralph D.L.G. Torres, in an interview, vowed to help the Northern Marianas Humanities Council which would lose $346,690 in National Endowment for the Humanities funding under the Trump administration’s proposal.
Torres said the humanities council is “a community partner so the CNMI government is here to assist them — I support the organization, and I want to see its programs continue.”
In a separate interview, Jerry Tan, who is a member of Marianas Visitor Authority board, noted that the federal cuts are being proposed while the local economy is picking up.
“What if this happened three to five years ago?” he asked.
“It will be unfortunate if the CNMI loses those federal grants. But unlike a few years ago when we had a very weak economy, the CNMI now is generating more revenue.”
Federal funding assistance is never permanent anyway, he added. “Sometimes, you’re lucky and you have federal funds coming in, but sometimes they are cut. What is important in the long run is to maintain and continue to develop a strong economy. But we also need to be very careful in planning our future so that the way we grow our economy is orderly and sustainable.”
Aside from National Endowment for the Humanities funding, the CNMI may also lose funding for the following federal programs: Emergency Food and Shelter, Micronesian Legal Services Corporation, Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants, Community Development Block Grants which include the proposed $984,846 for 2021 Pacific Games infrastructure development, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program and Weatherization Assistance.
The Trump administration also proposes to cut funding for State Homeland Security by $213,500; the Community Oriented Policing fund by $34,340; Workforce Opportunity Grants by $95,231; and Environmental Protection Agency State Grants by $941,184.
The CNMI could lose over $3 million in federal funding under President Trump’s budget proposal.
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