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Friday, April 18, 2014

New House panel on Retirement Fund issues

The prospective speaker of the incoming 18th House of Representatives and author of the newly ratified pension obligation bond initiative said yesterday that a new standing committee on NMI Retirement Fund issues will be formed to help extend the pension agency’s lifespan.

House minority leader Joe Deleon Guerrero (IR-Saipan), also the main author of the defeated impeachment resolution, said yesterday that this new committee will “focus on the critical issues facing the Retirement Fund.”

The 18th House of Representatives may have at least 10 committees.

“The Retirement Fund is among the top priorities and we are creating a special committee just for Fund issues. It will take more than the pension obligation bond to solve all the issues,” Deleon Guerrero told Saipan Tribune.

The government owes the Fund over $300 million in unpaid employer contributions. Yesterday, the Fund sued three government agencies for non-remittance of employer contributions to the pension agency.

Deleon Guerrero’s initiative amends the NMI Constitution to allow the government to float bond to help pay this obligation but it does not necessarily mean it will go this route if a feasibility or actuarial study shows that it won’t be in the CNMI’s best interest to do so.

The POB initiative received 6,876 “yes” votes against 4,152 “no” votes during the Nov. 6 midterm elections.

The initiative’s author said a study has to be done to see whether the CNMI can really borrow money at this time and if so, how much and at what interest rate.

“We will be consulting with the Retirement Fund and the Commonwealth Development Authority on this,” he added.

Fund investment consultant Maggie Ralbovsky, Wilshire Consulting principal, earlier told Saipan Tribune that if the government is successful in floating a $300-million bond, this would result in a $30-million debt for the CNMI each year.

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