April 11, 2006
Fund’s debt with health providers may shoot up
The NMI Retirement Fund’s debt with health providers may increase three-fold if it is not settled before June 30, when the Fund’s contract with third party administrator Hawaii Pacific Medical Referral expires. Fund administrator Karl T. Reyes said yesterday that, excluding the $7 million debt with the Commonwealth Health Center, the Group Health Insurance program owes HPMR $2.7 million for billings charged by health providers-hospitals and health centers-in Guam, Hawaii, and the U.S mainland. The $2.7 million is the discounted amount obtained through HPMR.
MLK Day in the NMI—at last!
Gov. Benigno R. Fitial will sign today a House bill that would establish a Martin Luther King Day in the Commonwealth. House Bill 15-37, once enacted, will become Public Law 15-4. It was passed by the House of Representatives on March 6, 2006 and by the Senate three days later. The measure will make Martin Luther King Day-commemorated on the third Monday of January-a legal holiday in the Northern Marianas. But the number of legal holidays will remain at 14, as the bill will combine Commonwealth Day and Covenant Day into one holiday. The day will be called Commonwealth Covenant Day and observed on the current Covenant Day, March 24. Commonwealth Day will no longer be observed on Jan. 9.
April 11, 2007
Hundreds camp out to file taxes
Although disappointed by the failure of the government to release their rebates on time, hundreds of CNMI taxpayers are still taking considerable time to line up and file their income tax returns before the April 17 deadline. “People are camping out here. They come here as early as 5am to 6am to be the first in line. When I arrived at 8am, everybody else was here. There’s plenty of people,” said Isabelle Piyalmai, who was holding a No. 47 printed on a yellow paper. She was one of the many who patiently waited for their turn to enter the tax assistance center at the Revenue & Taxation Division Office at the ground floor of Joeten Dandan building. According to the crowd, the division started distributing priority numbers in colored slips-red, green, yellow, and then pink-in the morning. Customers get their numbers based on their time of arrival. A division staff said 100 people are served for each batch or color. This means that Piyalmai, with her yellow No. 47, was the 347th customer that morning.
Another GOP split imminent?
Some GOP members in Precinct IV are threatening to block any nominations to be submitted by party’s current leaders. According to the group led by Luis Q. Kapileo, the NMI Republican Party’s board of directors was elected in violation of party bylaws. Thus, any actions taken by the board are illegitimate. When reached for his comment, GOP president Thomas B. Pangelinan refused to make any statement. “I don’t have the time nor the inclination to respond to those things,” he said yesterday. In an interview Monday, Kapileo said the party has neither a board of directors nor a set of officers because the party election of December 2006 was held improperly.
April 11, 2008
Census shows poorer NMI
The average income each person makes in the Northern Marianas dropped by a third between 2000 and 2004, according to a census report released yesterday. The census, conducted in the last quarter of 2005, found that the CNMI per capita income plunged to $6,178 in 2004, from $9,151 in 2000. The Commonwealth’s household income and family income mirrored the decline in per capita income. Each household made an average income of $25,172 in 2004, down from $37,015 in 2000. The average family income plunged to $28,461 in 2004, from $37,986 in 2000. A downward trend was also observed in the labor force population. Unemployment rose to 8 percent in 2005, from 4 percent in 2000.
’Sponsorship schemes’ on the rise, says Labor
The closure of many garment factories and other establishments has resulted in more alien workers engaging in sponsorship schemes. “We are seeing sponsorship issues left to right,” Labor Secretary Gil M. San Nicolas told Saipan Tribune. San Nicolas said that since being appointed Labor Secretary under the Fitial administration, the department has been continuously investigating sponsorship schemes. “We will continue to investigate any allegations or information that come regarding sponsorship and deal with them in a proper manner,” he said.