24 Mar 2009

CNMI struggles to furlough staff to keep within budget

2:27 pm on 24 March 2009

In the Northern Marianas, as the government prepares to lay off employees, department heads are having a difficult time identifying people they are legally able to furlough.

The recent passage of the 156 million US dollars budget for the Fiscal Year 2009 means the local government must cut its spending .

After the budget became law, Governor Benigno Fitial, who vetoed the budget proposal, said layoffs would be necessary, although the administration does not know how many would be affected.

The special assistant for administration, Esther Fleming, says many of the employees are civil service and cannot be let go.

She says if personnel cannot be reduced, operations will need to be downsized, something that is nearly impossible.

She has asked department secretaries and directors to work with the Office of Personnel Management to prepare a budget projection through September 30, the end of the fiscal year.

She says from there, they will identify the different divisions' shortfalls and determine who will be furloughed.