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Flashback — July 2005-July 2007

July 11, 2005

Govt spending exceeds revenue


The government has spent $150 million so far for the current fiscal year ending on May 31, which is $11 million more than what it has collected during the period. In an updated budget report to the Legislature dated July 1, Gov. Juan N. Babauta said that FY05 revenue collection ending May totaled $139 million, which he said was an increase of $6 million from last year’s collection due to “steady increase in business gross revenues.” But he also said that FY05 General Fund expenditures amounted to $150 million during the period partly due to the expenses incurred after the onslaught of two major disasters last year, direct hiring of nurses, decrease in garment industry revenues, as well as the recent power crisis at the Commonwealth Utilities Corp.

Babauta stands pat on NECA requirement

Gov. Juan N. Babauta insisted that Verizon should be required to join the National Exchange Carrier Association, which Micronesian Telecommunications Corp. and prospective buyer Pacific Telecom, Inc. agreed to in a 2004 settlement agreement. Babauta and CNMI consumer counsel Brian Caldwell jointly opposed MTC and PTI’s request to reconsider some points in the Commonwealth Telecommunications Commission’s final order that allowed the companies to proceed with the sale of Verizon. Since last year, the companies have agreed to join the NECA as part of the 27-point agreement, which the companies reached with the interveners, Babauta and Caldwell, before settlement hearing officer Sean Emory Frink. The parties expected PTI’s membership to NECA to provide assistance to rate and tariff development, industry database management, compliance auditing, economic forecasting, trend analysis and regulatory policy analysis.

July 11, 2006

Liaison offices to close down


The Marianas Hawaii Liaison Office will be shut down at the end of this month, while a similar office in Guam is also in the process of closing. Press secretary Charles P. Reyes Jr. disclosed yesterday that the Hawaii Liaison Office would be closed on July 31, 2006. “We’re still going to maintain the medical referral program, but the operations will be drastically scaled down,” Reyes said. “The Guam liaison office is also in the process of shutting down.” The closure of the CNMI’s off-island offices comes in view of the government’s cost-cutting efforts, according to Reyes. He said the administration hopes to save on rent and other expenses.

PSS to tighten belt on utility expenses

The Public School System will be tightening its utility consumption belt this coming school year after the Governor’s Office moved to transfer to PSS the burden of paying for utility expenses of at least 20 public schools. The central government will still be giving PSS its $37.21 million budget based on the continuing resolution level, but it has put the system on notice that the Governor’s Office will no longer shoulder the utility expenses of public schools.

July 11, 2007

CUC warning out vs tap water


Test results on water samples taken from the southern part of Saipan’s public water system showed high levels of nitrate, prompting the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. to issue a warning yesterday advising residents to refrain from giving the water to infants under six months old or to use it to make infant formula. CUC spokesperson Pamela Mathis said the public water system believes that these nitrate violations affect at least 5,000 customers in the southern part of Saipan. The tests were conducted by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-certified laboratory in California.

Change sought in status of FAS citizens’ relatives

Alien relatives of citizens of the Freely Associated States will be treated as guest workers if proposed amendments to immigration regulations are approved. The amendments, as proposed in the June 2007 issue of the Commonwealth Register, state that citizens of the Federal States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands are aliens for the purpose of sponsoring immediate relatives.

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