7 Mar 2012

State of emergency declared in CNMI as power cut off to schools and health providers

2:43 pm on 7 March 2012

Power has been cut off to six schools and in some non critical health centres in the Northern Marianas as a result of unpaid bills.

That prompted Governor Benigno Fitial to declare a state of emergency yesterday, paving the way for the government and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation to strike a multi-million dollar loan so that hospitals can pay their staff and utility bills.

Our correspondent Mark Rabago says a law was passed last year creating the healthcare corporation, with the intent that hospitals would be run independently.

But Mark Rabago says the $5 million dollar seed money set aside by the government to run it wasn't enough.

"For salaries alone I think the hospital pays 800,000 dollars every two weeks so by that alone in four and five months that five million dollars would be depleted so the law was good but execution-wise and the money set aside to run it was not good at all."

Mark Rabago says a Board of Education meeting was held to discuss contingency plans, which included calling for students to do their classes under the shade of a tree.