THE same government that has shut down or imposed restrictions on businesses is now telling them to give their employees paid leave. And pay them with what? Sea shells?
Amid an alarming spike in the number of Covid-19 cases on Guam and the recent report of two cases of community transmission on Saipan, the CNMI government’s amended emergency directives are, to be sure, understandable. If it fails to “do something,” then the government would be denounced for “inaction,” “covidiocy,” “corruption” or any of the other worn-out slurs favored by the reliably unimaginative online lynch mob.
But the new directives are supposed to be in effect until Sept. 16 only — assuming that the situation doesn’t get worse. Moreover, like the previous directives, the new ones were based on the recommendations of health experts.
So OK then. Private sector employers, their employees, working parents whose children must attend online classes, and other members of the community will have to put up with these new directives. What we find intolerable, however, are government “recommendations” that will make it even harder for the business community to survive this unprecedented crisis. Businesses, which generate revenue for the government, are barely breathing as it is. The government should stop making it worse for them.
AS far as we know, no one among the politicians seeking elective office this year are publicly talking about what was discussed in the Fiscal Response Summit held in April. It’s all there in the summit proceedings that can be downloaded for free (http://cnmi.pitiviti.org/uploads/Proceedings_CNMI_FiscalSummit_Jul2020_Digital.pdf) — the extent of the CNMI government’s financial predicament and possible ways to at least alleviate it.
What we hear from many of the candidates are what we’ve already heard in the past. The usual campaign pledges and election-year banalities uttered with a straight face by well-meaning individuals who may or may not know that what they are saying have been said before, and will be probably said again in future elections.
No one, as far as we know, has publicly stated how he or she can recall the furloughed government employees; provide PSS with the funding it says it needs; ensure that retirees will continue getting 100% of their pensions; help CHCC pay its utility bills; fully fund the medical referral and scholarship programs; among many other ongoing government obligations.
Or perhaps some of the candidates are for permanently reducing the size of government and therefore its workforce? Are they also in favor of raising or imposing new taxes?
No one knows. But these candidates for office want you to vote for them anyway. Biba democracy.