July 3, 2000
US Customs says transshipment not a problem in NMI
The United States Customs Office of Investigations has disclosed that diversions or transshipments of goods is not a problem in the Northern Marianas, according to the most recent report on the CNMI prepared by the investigative arm of the U.S. Congress. The General Accounting Office cited investigations by the U.S. Customs Service which yielded zero evidence on alleged transshipments of apparel products as claimed by the Department of the Interior's Office of Insular Affairs. Of the 16 joint investigations conducted by the CNMI and U.S. Customs Service since 1996, three cases involved narcotics smuggling while one was on a fugitive who fled the Northern Marianas with $10,000 in stolen money.
CNMI renews plea for Compact reimbursement
The government has renewed its call for reimbursement of over $100 million that the United States has owed the Northern Marianas for its assistance to citizens of the Freely Associated States under the Compact agreement. CNMI officials have presented their testimony to the U.S. House Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific during a recent hearing in Washington D.C. on the federal financial aid to the Republic of Marshalls and the Federated States of Micronesia as part of the accord. The testimony detailed fiscal impacts of the Compact to the local coffers from 1986 to 1998, which the island government estimated to be between $80 million to $108 million. Last year, $15 million have been spent using taxpayers' dollars to assist FAS nationals.
July 3, 20001
Panel told to fine-tune medical bill
The House of Representatives threw back to the House Committee On Judicial And Government Operations the bill that would allow Japanese doctors to practice their profession in the Commonwealth, saying the measure needs more fine-tuning before it passes muster before the Lower House. Of particular concern for Rep. Heinz Hofschneider was the alteration made by the committee on House Bill 12-355, where the word “foreign” was replaced with the word “Japanese” to refer to doctors who would be allowed to practice in the Commonwealth without passing the US medical board.
Legislators want better airline service
North Pacific island legislators, unhappy with Continental Micronesia, have banded together in a coordinated effort to develop expanded regional airline services. The Association of Pacific Island Legislatures, meeting in Guam, has resolved to launch a feasibility study on upgrading services. Aloha Airlines, Freedom Air, Hawaiian Airlines and Air Nauru will be asked ,to provide more flights throughout Micronesia - including the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Kiribati, Nauru, the Marshall Islands and Palau - said Representative Dino M. Jones.
July 3, 2002
Heinz: $213M budget doubtful
With the government itself predicting current revenue collections to hit $193.4 million, there is no reason to expect the adoption in toto of the Babauta administration's $213-million budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2003. House Speaker Heinz S. Hofschneider stressed this point, even as he pointed out that, if one were to use the revenue collection trend for the last eight months, the actual collections could be predicted to reach $182.7 million only. This comes soon after acting Gov. Diego T. Benavente wrote to the 13th Legislature, recommending no changes in the administration's spending plan for the next fiscal year.
EPA unveils more US grants
There could be more federal grants available to the Commonwealth, as President Bush inserted $21 million in his proposed budget for a new watershed protection and restoration initiative. No less then U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman wrote to Gov. Juan N. Babauta about this, saying that the EPA will provide grants “to support community-based efforts at as many as 20 watersheds in 2003.” “Given the vital role that states will play in implementing this program, I am inviting you and your counterparts across the country to work with EPA as we design the process by which watersheds will be nominated and selected for funding,” Whitman stated.