4,730 PUA applications yet to be processed

Posted on Aug 31 2020

It has been over five months since workers have been either terminated or in reduced hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and according to Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP), out of 8,312 applicants that the Department of Labor have received, 4,730 still await for their Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation.

The PUA and FPUC programs have been in the works since last March 27, and have been slowly distributed since July 17, still 4,730 applicants has yet to be paid, and now face evictions, cars repossessions, overdue loan payments, etc.

Sablan stated in a letter to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres that the U.S. Department of Labor has released $119,770,584, however Sablan is worried about the “slow pace” of the distribution of payments to the applicants who are out of work and are in urgent need of assistance.
“As you might imagine, the congressional office continues to receive numerous requests for help from some of those thousands who are waiting,” said Sablan. He added that the people who have been reaching out to him shares that they are “unable” to reach the Commonwealth’s Department of Labor by phone.

Sablan added that the people who have been reaching out to him share that they are devastated and desperate for the $945 weekly benefit that U.S. Congress made available in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act last March 27, and last Aug. 27 marks the fifth month since the CARES Act was signed into law.

“This situation is even more difficult to explain, knowing that the CARES Act also provided your government with over $2 million to pay for staff to process the applications and that you have not put all that money to use,” said Sablan.

In Sablan’s letter to Torres, he pleads that Torres do everything, in his will power, that he can do to get the PUA and FPUC “into the pockets of the thousands of people who qualify and have not yet been paid.”

Justine Nauta | Correspondent
Justine Nauta is Saipan Tribune's community and health reporter and has covered a wide range of news beats, including the Northern Marianas College and Commonwealth Health Care Corp. She's currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation and Human Services at NMC.
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