To all elected officials:
It is with deep concern of where our retirement program is heading that it forces me to write again to urge you to listen to the people you're supposed to served. I cannot imagine in my wildest dream that we will be in this mess if only you take the time to get input from the people since no one has a monopoly on good ideas. Now that everyone is faced with this serious economic crisis, we all need to do the right thing and put our minds together to find the solution.
When the government has limited money, we all need to sacrifice and cut expenditures. To be a leader, you must lead. If you can show the public that you are willing to cut your salary and office budget, then the rest of the government sectors will also follow this shared sacrifice. But having an austerity measures for the thousands of employees, while you and your constitutionally protected friends are sitting comfortably without any worry of getting reduced paycheck is really unfair. I know that you know it's not fair, so let's all sacrifice together. If one of the solutions is to save the retirement pension is for retirees to sacrifice and accept a small cut, I'm sure many will agree in order to extend the life of the program. However, for you not showing any leadership to look for additional revenue to save the program, how can retirees believe you? For over 12 years, you and your predecessors had failed to send the required employer's contribution to the retirement fund and perhaps forgetting also to pay the $320 million it owes, since by Oct. 1, the finance department will control all the pension funds based on the executive order.
Basically what this means is a double whammy. The administration will get rid of the present employer's contribution requirement and accelerate the demise of the retirement pension all in one stoke. What a brilliant maneuver of getting out of this messy problem which both the legislature and the administration created in the first place by not paying the required employer's contribution.
When the government owes millions and millions of dollar to vendors and to the retirement program, the first thing you should do when you find some extra money is pay your debts. Now that the 2013 budget is being reviewed and debated, don't you think it's an opportune time for both the Legislature and the administration to sit down and talk seriously about the state of our economy and the real need to prioritize? Keep in mind the stakeholders while you're doing it. Be realistic and reduced everyone's budget based on an intelligent projection of revenue collections.
Let's all share in cutting salaries, pension checks, programs that are not really necessary and of course, employees that are not needed. Your focus should be to save our people from economic hardship. Look everywhere, both here and abroad, for revenue-enhancements measures and does it fast for the time not on your side.
We cannot change anything if our attitude continues in its present track. So please plan ahead and have a vision of hope for the future. Admittedly, you cannot take all the blame for the mistakes of the past. But to continue on the same path to self-destruction will show callous disregard to the rule of the law and welfare of the people.
Please I ask you again, let's all work together and face up to our responsibilities and obligations like what our ancestors had always done in the time of crisis.they all help one another. That is the Chamorro and Carolinian way. It behooves you to think of the future where your grandchildren and great grandchildren will be reading your legacy as an elected official. Either you become part of the solution in saving the CNMI or be part of the problem for now knowing what to do to save it. It's your call.
Justin S. Manglona