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Editorials | We’re all ears / We might as well buy lottery tickets

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 We’re all ears

 A LAWMAKER wants the NMI to be a “more self-sustaining community [that is] not so vulnerable to the outside, like what happened with this pandemic.”

To be “self-sustaining” is a popular notion — “since ever since.” And yet, as far as we know, no one among the CNMI’s lawmakers or other elected officials have publicly announced a detailed plan to make it happen which, among other things, requires the support of voters.

Let’s get the proverbial ball rolling. The first goal of its proponents should be clarity. What do they mean by “more self-sustaining”? The CNMI doesn’t have a lot of resources and is heavily dependent on imports.  The islands’ one and only industry, tourism, caters primarily to visitors from other places.

So what are the foreign items/people that the CNMI should be less dependent on? Oil? Cars? Electronics? Food? Clothes? Construction materials? Healthcare/medicine? Airlines? Sea vessels? Telecommunications? Foreign investments? Guest workers? Tourists?

But without them, the local economy would shrink to what it was during the Trust Territory era (when many local people clamored for economic development).

We now know, moreover, that whenever the economy sputters, the government collects less revenue and, consequently, must lay off/furlough many of its employees, shut down  or downsize many of its offices/programs, and impose deep budget cuts on many critical agencies/services/obligations, including PSS and benefit payments for retirees.

But perhaps today’s proponents of  a “more self-sustaining community” know something that we don’t. So please enlighten us. How exactly can the CNMI be a more “self-sustaining community”? What’s your plan? How can you make it happen? When?

We might as well buy lottery tickets

INSTEAD of proposing actual revenue-generating or cost-cutting measures, some politicians insist that the CNMI government should collect what Imperial Pacific International owes the Commonwealth in terms of community chest fund or other payments mandated by law.

Of course the CNMI must demand that IPI pay what it should pay. But how much does it owe the government anyway? Can it pay it now or as soon as possible?

Like other businesses on island, IPI is struggling. It was already struggling before the Covid-19 pandemic. It is under federal investigation. It also has to deal with so many lawsuits, including those filed by its unpaid contractors — and there could be more such lawsuits for all we know.

Expecting IPI to pay the CNMI tens of millions of dollars ASAP cannot be the only “solution” to the government’s deteriorating financial condition which should be addressed now.

So are there any other ideas besides forming new committees and conducting meetings — and talking about the importance of forming new committees and conducting meetings?

As for those who believe that IPI/casino gaming is the worst thing that has ever happened to the island since poker arcades — well, revoke IPI’s license already; repeal the casino law; or take IPI to court. (Why not? It seems that everyone and their uncle is doing it already.) And while you’re at it, pass a law banning poker arcades.

Our point: don’t just talk about “solutions” in the abstract. Introduce specific proposals. Conduct public hearings. Solicit comments from stakeholders. Draw up a list of the possible consequences of measures that will significantly reduce the government’s revenue base. Who and what will be affected?

Do something; make it happen.

 

 

 

 

 

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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