28 Sep 2012

CNMI Governor prepares for possible shutdown over stalled budget

3:10 pm on 28 September 2012

The Governor of the Northern Marianas has issued a preparatory government shutdown memo identifying exempted "essential" positions two days before the deadline for him to sign a fiscal year 2013 budget.

Benigno Fitial issued the memo as the bicameral budget committee laboured through the night to come up with a compromise US$114-million spending package for legislative action.

In Mr Fitial's memo, only positions delivering essential services related to health, safety and welfare will remain functioning.

They include doctors, nurses, police officers, corrections officers, firefighters, and utility crews.

Also exempted from the shutdown are the Public School System, Commonwealth Ports Authority, Commonwealth Utilities Corporation and the Northern Marianas College.

The CNMI Constitution requires a government shutdown if no new budget is in place by the beginning of each fiscal year.

More than 1,500 government workers were earlier told they will have to stop working from Monday until a balanced budget is in place.