16 Sep 2010

CNMI committee agree on some budget measures but other issues still outstanding

5:52 am on 16 September 2010

Members' of the Northern Marianas House of Representatives and Senate reached an agreement late last night on some outstanding issues surrounding the 2011 budget bill.

A deadlock between the House and Senate on the 132 million US spending package resulted in the formation of a conference committee.

The Senate's proposal to cap each lawmaker's annual discretionary fund at 86-thousand US dollars was agreed upon.

The group also decided that most government employees will face pay cuts of up to 25 percent.

The committee will meet again today to hammer out the issue of work hour cuts and have invited the Finance Secretary and other administration officials to today's meeting.

The Senate wants 72 work hours per pay period, while the House and the Fitial administration want 64 hours per pay period to address the severe government cash crisis.

Our correspondent in Saipan, Mark Rabago, says a resolution on the budget must be found before the end of this month.

"The government has an October 1 deadline which they have to deliver a balance budget that the Governor, Benigo Fitial, should sign, so if they don't do that then the government will have to shut down as mandated by the constitution on October 1."

Mark Rabago.