In an election year, it is hard to expect any of the lawmakers to “do the right thing” to help save the Fund, but Rep. Joseph Palacios (R-Saipan) said yesterday the CNMI cannot afford to sit idly by while most retirees lose their pension if nothing is done to address unfunded liabilities.
Some retirees that would be affected by Palacios’ proposal declined to comment yesterday, saying they would wait for the bill to be finalized.
Under Palacios’ proposal, all retired elected officials, judges, and justices will no longer receive the 3-percent annual increase in their pension which he said is one of the unfunded liabilities that need to be eliminated.
“So if they served 10 or 20 years in office, you multiply 10 or 20 by 3 percent, that’s 30 percent or 60 percent on top of their regular pension,” he said, adding that he will also meet with retirees and stakeholders on the proposal.
Another of his proposal is to cap at $25,000 the pension amount that a surviving spouse of a retiree can receive.
Palacios cited that a surviving spouse of a former official has been receiving $80,000 or 50 percent of that former official’s annual salary.
He said this is unfair to most retirees receiving less than $25,000 in pension annually. His proposal is to cap the surviving spouse’s annual pension at $25,0000.
Palacios, at the same time, said only the Legislature can reduce retirees’ regular pension, and not the Executive Branch.
Press secretary Angel Demapan said the Fitial administration’s pension recovery and survival plan does not seek to reduce pension.
“The governor and lieutenant governor propose to continue the current pension amount and fund 50 percent through line-item appropriation,” he had said.