Besides the historic pre-filing of a resolution impeaching Gov. Benigno R. Fitial, the CNMI's minimum wage and the events that led to the imposition of a 50-cent increase every year has also been drawing national media coverage when the Republican National Convention listed it in its platform this year.
Republicans said the CNMI and other Pacific territories should have flexibility to determine the minimum wage, which has seriously restricted progress in the private sector.
The Washington Post listed the CNMI minimum item as “one of the ten oddest in the GOP Platform.”
Rep. Fred Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan), seeking re-election this time under Fitial's Republican Party, said yesterday that regardless of whether the RNC talked about the matter or not, the CNMI's minimum wage will increase again by another 50 cents on Sept. 30 under U.S. laws.
He said even if Republicans push for the repeal of the annual minimum wage increases in the CNMI, “it will take years for that to take effect.”
“On one hand, people here deserve to be paid more. On the other hand, we need to take a look at the ramifications of this annual increase,” Deleon Guerrero told Saipan Tribune.
The Saipan Chamber of Commerce has supported this year's 50-cent increase but is poised to request a delay in next year's increase because of financial difficulties faced by businesses that are also grappling with a slow economy, high cost of doing business mainly because of utility and fuel prices, and federal immigration uncertainty, among other things.
Fitial led the CNMI delegation to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. While he drew applause from the crowd at the RNC some 8,000 miles away, some lawmakers and community members want him impeached.
An online petition to impeach him has been drawing hundreds of signatures, and community members have been calling and writing letters to their representatives asking them to support the impeachment.
A Twitter account purportedly from Fitial also got national press coverage but the account turned out to be fake. One of the prank tweets said, “Having too much fun in Tampa...to worry about this supposed impeachment waiting for me back home. I guarantee you no one is going to impeach me. I own this Legislature! No one will dare defy me!”