19 Aug 2013

CNMI lawmaker says Fund settlement deal unconstitutional

6:47 pm on 19 August 2013

A lawmaker in the Northern Marianas says the tentatively approved agreement the Inos administration entered into with beneficiaries of the CNMI Retirement Fund is unconstitutional.

Janet Maratita says the agreement to commit the Commonwealth to pay millions of dollars for an indefinite period of time without regard to anticipated revenues is, at best, unconstitutional and illegal.

She said Governor Eloy Inos is constitutionally and statutorily mandated to submit to the Legislature a proposed annual balanced budget that describes the CNMI's anticipated revenues and recommended expenditures.

Ms Maratita also says it is a breach of the governor's fiduciary duty to agree to cut retirees' pensions by 25 percent without a corresponding cut from the CNMI budget.

The governor earlier said that without the settlement deal that guarantees minimum pension payments, the Fund would cease to exist much faster than earlier anticipated.

Restoration of the deferred 25-percent pension will depend on the availability of funds that the Legislature will appropriate based on new revenue-generating measures and an improved economy.