Gov. Eloy S. Inos asked all departments and agencies on Friday to stop all hiring and salary increases “until further notice,” shortly after the abrupt yet smooth transition following Wednesday's resignation of Benigno R. Fitial as governor. Officials said yesterday that the directive is needed for financial accountability as well as political concerns.
“Effective immediately, all personnel actions including, but not limited to, change in salary compensation and re-allocations, shall be frozen until further notice,” Inos said in his first directive as governor.
Andrew Orsini, executive director of the Civil Service Commission, believes the new governor had to issue the directive to help cushion the impact of possible federal funding cuts to the CNMI over the so-called “sequestration” as early as March 1.
Sequestration is a series of automatic, across-the-board cuts to U.S. government agencies totaling $1.2 trillion over 10 years.
“I would think that is tied in to possible funding cuts from the federal government, so that directive has to be enforced and supported,” Orsini said in a phone interview yesterday.
Inos addressed the Feb. 22 directive to all departments and agencies, and furnished a copy to Lt. Gov. Jude U. Hofschneider and the Civil Service Commission.
Rep. Ray Tebuteb (IR-Saipan) said it is “appropriate” that the governor issues the “hiring freeze” directive, considering the “budget outlook and measures in the House” designed to help the NMI Retirement Fund, among other things.
House minority leader George Camacho (R-Saipan) said yesterday the directive is “kind of interesting,” considering that “it is technically the same administration.”
“However, we must respect the new governor and allow him to evaluate his departments and agencies. I do hope that the directive will be short-lived because I am certain that there are many pending positions that need to be filled and reassessed. Today, we still face the same challenges and must be able to move forward toward a common goal,” Camacho said.
Inos meeting with lawmakers
The new governor will also be meeting this week with the members of the 18th Legislature.
House Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero (IR-Saipan) and newly installed Senate President Ralph Torres (R-Saipan) separately said yesterday there's no specific date given yet but the meeting will take place this week.
“I believe the agenda is about moving forward, about the measures that need to be passed,” Deleon Guerrero said.
The House minority leader also said he will be in this meeting but he, along with other lawmakers, has yet to know when and where that meeting will be.
White House, Interior invitation
Outgoing U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs David Agnew invited the new governor and Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) to join the 2013 meeting of the Interagency Group on Insular Areas in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 26.
Sablan said the annual IGIA meeting is “important because it gives the insular areas, including our Commonwealth, the opportunity to make presentations and/or briefs identifying specific areas of concern and interest to the Northern Mariana Islands.”
The delegate earlier confirmed his attendance at the meeting. Inos is unable to attend and has asked Sablan to convey his apologies for his absence, the delegate said.
“It is for this reason that I cannot delay my return to Washington, D.C. and it is for this reason that I could not join Commonwealth officials at their meeting,” added Sablan, who is also supposed to meet with Inos and lawmakers this week.