Bill on retirees’ pension to remain with the committee
Tag: casino, CNMI, HB, House Bill
A bill that proposes to allocate all of the annual payments from a casino license to retirees’ pension payments will be shelved temporarily.
House Bill 19-21 was introduced by Rep. Blas Jonathan “B.J.” Attao (Ind-Saipan). “The bill by Rep. Attao will be tabled in the meantime,” Rep. Antonio P. Sablan (Ind-Saipan) said.
Sablan, who chairs the House Committee on Ways and Means where Attao’s bill was referred to, said the committee decided to “leave the bill to the committee” and it will not be brought up at the House session today.
He said most of the committee members seem to have “a lot of issues” with Attao’s bill.
The bill seeks to amend Public Law 18-56 or the CNMI’s casino law. One observation is that the bill will effectively remove the fund allocation to the three senatorial districts coming from the casino license fees.
Attao earlier aired his concern about the payment of retirees’ pensions from the casino license fee, saying the actual distribution of the fee as stated in P.L.18-56 is not enough to make up for the 25 percent cut in the pension of all government retirees.
“The Commonwealth needs approximately $17 million to pay in full the 25 percent reduction that was included in the Settlement Fund. Additionally, the Commonwealth will not receive the license fee on the fifth year, which means that retirees will again lose the entire 25 percent of their pension,” Attao explained.
He said H.B. 19-21 that he earlier introduced “replaces the fifth year with the 40th year of license payment, which will be a plus for the casino [since] GDP calculations and the dollar value in the future will increase and a plus for the retirees as their pensions will be a continuous payment from the license fee.”
“I introduced HB 19-21 to provide for the actual intent of PL 18-56, which was to address the 25 percent reduction of CNMI government retirees,” Attao said.
He also said the CNMI has “a tool in Public Law 18-56 which is being fine-tuned by House Bill 19-021 to direct the fees for the retirees right now so we can remove that problem from our table.”
HB 19-21 intends to amend PL 18-56 “to dedicate the entire license fee collections for the payment of retirees’ pension reduction.”