30 Dec 2005

Governor-elect in Northern Marianas warns tough times ahead

1:55 pm on 30 December 2005

The incoming governor of the Northern Mariana Islands anticipates a difficult year ahead in view of the solvency of the government.

The newspaper, The Saipan Tribune, reports some members of the transition committee believe the country's deficit could be close to US$200 million.

Such a figure would be close to equalling the government's entire annual operating budget.

The governor-elect, Benigno Fitial, describes the country's finances as fragile and precarious and

only a comprehensive financial audit would tell the whole story.

The incoming Lieutenant Governor, Timothy Villagomez, stated the financial condition of the government was far worse today than it was four yeas ago.

However both leaders say the problems aren't insurmountable.

They appealed to the public to realise that they could no longer afford many of the things that used to be taken for granted during more prosperous times.