Representative-elect Mariano Taitano (Ind.-Saipan) said he will be introducing an initiative that aims to significantly cut retirement benefits in a bid to prolong the lifespan of the NMI Retirement Fund by at least seven more years.
In an interview last week, Taitano said he will file the initiative in the first or second week after the Jan. 14 inauguration of the 18th House of Representatives.
“I want it [as soon as possible].hit the ground running so to speak because time is of the essence,” said Taitano, who is expected to head the House's Special Committee on Retirement Fund Issues.
Based on its current portfolio of over $250 million, the Fund is projected to last only up to 2014. The next general election is November 2014.
Taitano said the initiative will perhaps coincide with the special election so that voters will have a chance to vote on an amendment to Article 3, Section 20 of the CNMI Constitution.
Taitano said he supports reducing benefits just to prolong the Fund program's lifespan. “I'm willing to sacrifice as high as 25 percent,” he added.
He conceded that any measure to reduce Fund benefits is very unpopular among Fund members but he hopes that Fund members will agree to make sacrifices by agreeing to a reduction in benefits.
He said it was earlier projected that if the Fund reduces benefits by 25 percent, this will prolong the pension program by at least seven years.