August 30, 2005
Deadline bears down on PTI deal
If Verizon fails to get the consent of the Marianas Public Lands Authority in the transfer of leases from Micronesian Telecommunications Corp. to Pacific Telecom Inc. by today, the companies will have no choice but to defer the closing of the multi-million-dollar telecom deal. The Commonwealth Telecommunications Commission had set tomorrow, Aug. 31, as the deadline for the companies to close the sale. “I think that, if it becomes clear that there’s going to be no agreement between Verizon and the MPLA in the next 24 hours, I think we will have to ask for a deadline extension,” said PTI president Jose Ricardo P.R. Delgado in a telephone interview yesterday. “Until Verizon is able to get that consent, we can’t close.”
Collision leads to fatal mauling
Police arrested on Thursday a Palauan man who allegedly mauled to death another man last Aug. 6 after both of them figured in a vehicular collision on Middle Road, Garapan, across the Commonwealth Health Center. The victim, also a Palauan, died at the hospital Thursday night. Police said an autopsy on the victim’s body would be conducted. Acting Department of Public Safety spokesman Eric F. David did not disclose the victim’s identity, but described him as a 34-year-old resident of San Roque. David also described the victim’s initials as TBA. In a statement released yesterday, David said police arrested the suspect in the fatal mauling on Aug. 15.
August 30, 2006
Cuts in scholarship funds
The CNMI Scholarship Office is reducing the amount of its grant awards to cope with declining funding. The new budget plan proposes 21-percent cut to the funding of the Scholarship Office. From an annual budget of $4.23 million over the past four years, the Scholarship Office will receive only $3.37 million in fiscal year 2007. According to Scholarship Office director Merissa Mae Seman, the agency has lowered grant amounts to ensure that all qualified applicants get financial assistance in their studies.
GHLI to add $1.10 to premium
After raising the premium rate for the Group Health Insurance program by up to 52 percent earlier this year, the NMI Retirement Fund is proposing to further increase this by $1.10, citing negotiations that fell through with contractor Pharmacare. In a public notice dated July 1, 2006, the Fund proposed to amend the rules and regulations governing the GHI program “to revise the drug formulary by implementing the drug formulary of its third party administrator, Aetna Global Benefits.” This amendment “would increase employee premiums under Article 10, section 10.5, by an additional $1.10 for pharmaceutical services to be provided by Aetna due to the falling through during contract negotiations between the program and Pharmacare for pharmacy benefits management.”
August 30, 2007
Gap between US and local education spending widens
The Public School System has reported a widening gap between local education spending and the national average. In fiscal year 2006, the Commonwealth spent $5,618 on each public school student, according to financial and statistical data that PSS submitted to auditors in May 2007. The CNMI spending is 40 percent lower than the U.S. average, which was $9,401 per child. Last year’s figures also showed the largest gap between the local and federal average in the past 10 years.
Govt projects FY08 revenue at $160M
The Commonwealth expects to collect just a little over $160 million in revenues next fiscal year, but outside funding sources may stretch the government budget by over $8 million, according to the administration’s top budget official. Antonio Muna, the governor’s special assistant for management and budget, said the revenue estimate for FY 2008 is $160.1 million. But Compact-Impact funds and other local funds may allow the government to spend beyond this amount. Every year, the CNMI receives $5.17 million from the federal government for the costs of migration by citizens of Micronesian states that signed the Compacts of Free Association with the United States. This program started in 2004 and will continue through 2008.