Employees of the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. can sigh with relief for now following confirmation yesterday that their payroll will be released as scheduled today.
Corporation chief financial officer Alvaro Santos confirmed yesterday that “there will be payday [today]” and that funds will come from the corporation's revenue and collection.
Saipan Tribune learned that the corporation's payroll cost is about $650,000 biweekly, not including the housing allowance, which amounts to over $100,000 monthly.
A statement from the office of CEO Juan N. Babauta states that corporation paychecks will be issued today along with allotments and employee contributions for retirement.
“Employer contribution is one that the entire CNMI government doesn't pay still, but as far as the corporation is concerned they treat that on a case-by-case basis, mostly on availability of funds,” the statement adds.
Press secretary Angel Demapan separately confirmed that the Department of Finance did not receive a request for assistance with the corporation's payroll.
“It appears that the corporation may have been able to handle their payroll processing on their own,” he told Saipan Tribune.
The Fitial administration earlier requested an immediate drawdown of $2.4 million from the $7 million line of credit from Marianas Public Land Trust to assist the corporation in its immediate needs such as payroll and supplies.
“In regards to the MPLT drawdown, the administration has not received an update,” said Demapan.
The corporation last month failed to provide the payroll of employees on time. The payroll for that week was delayed for five days. Some outpatient clinics were also forced to temporarily shut down due to the lack of attending physicians and medical supplies.
“Since we experienced that disappointing 'payless payday,' we're always worried about our next paycheck. So we're glad that the corporation is now making our salary a priority on their list,” a long-time hospital employee said.
Meantime, some nurses interviewed yesterday remain disappointed with the management for keeping them in the dark about their housing allowance. This month marks the seventh month that the housing allowance has been delayed.
The allowance is given to employees hired from outside the CNMI. It amounts to $600 for single employees and $800 for those with families.
The corporation's advisory board has recommended to Babauta the scrapping of the housing allowance effective October this year. To date, the CEO has no clear answer to employees whether he will stop or suspend the housing benefit.
The corporation's workforce is down to 436 from 600 in October 2011, mainly due to an emergency reduction-in-force, resignations, and retirements.