August 21, 2005
NMI reefs ‘reasonably healthy’
Coral reef ecosystems in the CNMI are, on the whole, reasonably healthy but those in the Northern Islands and more distant banks and reefs appear to be in better condition than those closer to population centers such as Saipan, according to a report released Friday by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. The report, called The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States: 2005, also said that effects brought by the presence of large populations, such as nonpoint source pollution and fishing pressure, have affected coral reefs around Saipan, Tinian and Rota. “While these stressors are actively being managed by local government agencies, some solutions, such as the replacement of sewer infrastructure, exceed locally available funding,” the report said.
Babauta vetoes nursing scholarship bill
As petitioned by some college students and even the CNMI Senate, Gov. Juan N. Babauta disapproved a nursing scholarship bill for lack of funding and a seemingly difficult eligibility criteria. “Numerous concerns have been raised regarding the viability of this proposed program. These concerns.relate to the lack of identified funding for the program and the fact that this measure does not assist current nursing students in the manner originally intended,” said the governor in an Aug. 16, 2005 transmittal letter to the Legislature. He cited that the bill appropriates $200,000 from the Tobacco Control Fund to finance the program, but he said that the Legislature recently passed a bill, now enacted as Public Law 14-80, “which continuously appropriates all monies deposited in the Tobacco Control Fund for other programs.”
August 21, 2006
Benefits for ex-governors, lt. governors imperiled
The NMI Retirement Fund has threatened to stop paying special benefits to former governors and lieutenant governors because of the government’s failure to remit contributions for the annuitants. Retirement Fund administrator Karl T. Reyes said that the Executive Branch owes the Fund over $445,000 in contributions for special annuities for past governors and lieutenant governors. In a letter to Finance Secretary Eloy Inos, Reyes demanded that the arrears be settled through appropriation. Otherwise, the Fund will stop releasing the special retirement annuities to the former CNMI leaders.
Immigration tightens screening procedures
Immigration officers have tightened screening procedures at CNMI airports to detect people coming unlawfully to the CNMI, according to Division of Immigration Director Melvin Grey. In an interview with the Saipan Tribune, Grey said the strict screening at the airports is actually an ongoing process due to the worldwide threat of terrorism. Grey said he observed that Immigration officers are “doing their job so far” in strictly checking incoming passengers at the airports.
August 21, 2007
NMC posts $7 million operating loss in FY06
The Northern Marianas College posted an operating loss of over $7 million last fiscal year, according to an independent audit report issued yesterday. Deloitte & Touche, which audited NMC’s financial statements in FY 2006, found that the college’s $7.05-million operating loss was actually an improvement from FY 2005, when expenses exceeded funds by $8.7 million. The FY 2006 figure is also the lowest since FY 2002.
Cross Island project to commence in weeks
Public Works Secretary Jose S. Demapan said the first phase of the department’s biggest project this year, the Cross Island Road Improvement, may finally start in the next few weeks. In an interview with Saipan Tribune Friday, Demapan said they will be meeting with Federal Highway representatives from Hawaii sometimes this week to discuss the construction of the $12 million road project. “We will hopefully sit down with them so we can finalize the project to begin the bid for the construction of the Cross Island Road Project phase 1,” he said. “Hopefully once we bid and give the green light to advertise this project then we will go move forward. Maybe next week.”