The chair of the House Ways and Means Committee yesterday presses the NMI Retirement Fund to ease conditions on the settlement of some $21 million in unpaid contribution by the government, pointing to the mounting financial obligations of the Tenorio administration.
“The most important is the liability of the government on the vendors, people that have provided goods and services,” Rep. Karl T. Reyes said in an interview.
“If this is just something that the Retirement Fund will collect and reinvest and try to make more money again on top of what they already have, maybe it’s not as high priority as the vendors,” he added.
Reyes is expected to attend a meeting today with Gov. Pedro P. Tenorio’s finance officials and the Retirement Fund board to find ways to meet the obligation of the government to NMIRF, which represents its share of the monthly contribution for public sector employees.
The governor last week said he would favor installment until the government has completely paid out its debts, a proposal being considered by NMIRF officials in an effort to help them during this economic crisis.
Since last year, the administration has been default in its payment to the agency due to the weak financial shape of the commonwealth. Every month, the government has to come up with approximately $850,000 in contribution money against employees share of around $280,000.
But the Retirement Fund has expressed concern whether the government can afford to continue to evade payment of its dues, noting its difficulties right now in raising cash to meet its various obligations, including salary of its personnel.
“When a big amount of money is involved like this, it is necessary that everybody should wait for their portion of the share of the government. We have to look into that,” Reyes explained.
As head of the Ways and Means Committee, the representative said he would inquire into the investments made by the Retirement Fund to find out its financial state as he believes that it has the ability to assist the CNMI government now to weather its cash-flow problems.
Under Tenorio’s proposal, the government will try to come up next month with $1.5 million to cover initial payment for its back contribution, but will pledge to pay whatever available resources it has in the succeeding months.
There are about 5,000 government employees who are active members of the fund and 1,200 retirees under pension.