22 Mar 2006

CNMI face blackouts as money crisis bites

7:56 pm on 22 March 2006

The Northern Marianas government says the Commonwealth could experience major power blackouts and suffer more job cuts if the US Congress doesn't approve a 140-million US dollar funding request.

The CNMI has submitted the bailout request for the 2007 fiscal year.

The government press secretary says the pull-put of Japan Airlines, the closure of garment factories because of WTO rules and previous maladministration have led to the CNMI's dire economic situation.

Charles Reyes says his government is also asking the US for a return to a quota system for garment production in CNMI and the return of about one million US dollars in taxes paid to the federal government.

Mr Reyes says if the requests are declined there could be a serious crisis as infrastructure, like power generators, need attention.

"If we do not receive relief in one of these forms, whether it's a trade rule change or a direct financial assistance or remitting the taxes back to our local government, we're going have to make serious cuts. If the generators break down, I mean, it could be a serious crisis, we could have an island-wide power outage for months. It's a very critical situation."