AS HOUSE HOLD FINAL SESSION
‘Cooperation brought CNMI back on track’
Rep. Antonio P. Sablan (Ind-Saipan) said that the full cooperation of the CNMI’s officials helped brought the Commonwealth back on the road to economic recovery after years of being stagnant and the government implementing belt-tightening measures.
Sablan, in his remarks in last Wednesday’s House sine die session, enumerated some of the CNMI’s problems almost five years ago. “Government shutdown, delayed payrolls, Retirement Fund issues, bankruptcies, rock bottom government revenues, and declining tourism numbers were some of the issues back then.”
“But with the dedication and hard work that we’ve shown, and with the support of the administration of the late governor Eloy Inos and now Gov. Ralph Torres, and our Senate counterparts, we have successfully brought the CNMI back toward economic recovery.”
He said as elected officials they were given the opportunity to do what’s best for the CNMI. “Not too many people get to do what we do. That’s why without hesitation, I can confidently say that I have served the people of the CNMI well and made things better.”
Sablan is one of five House members who lost their re-election bids last November. He was the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, which is tasked to draft legislation that would appropriate funds of the government and other revenue-raising bills.
House floor leader George N. Camacho (R-Saipan), minority leader Ramon A. Tebuteb (Ind-Saipan), and Reps. Anthony T. Benavente (Ind-Saipan), Roman C. Benavente, and Ralph N. Yumul were also unlucky in the last elections. Reps. Felicidad T. Ogumoro (R-Saipan) and Francis S. Taimanao (Ind-Saipan) decided not to seek re-election.
Sablan said that those years were a difficult challenge for the Commonwealth, but it is during those times that tough decisions should be made. “It was obviously it was difficult, but it was also clear that we could no longer just sit down and hope for things to get better. We have to muster the courage to make even the difficult and often times controversial decisions to make things better.”
He added that bringing the CNMI’s economy back on its feet was one of the accomplishments that the 19th Legislature is part of. “With the courage, dedication, and hard work, I believe that we have come a long way in a short time.”
Sablan then lined up some of the achievements that took place in the last three years. “We have restored investor confidence that resulted in the retirees receiving 100 percent of their pensions and at the same time were given a bonus.”
“Tourism numbers continue to rise and this increased job opportunities. We also provided training and better education to our school system. We improved healthcare and the medical referral program. [We] had salary adjustments for government employees. And the government having to pay some of its outstanding obligations like in land compensation and judgments.”
He added that he has authored bills that became laws but considers the fight the drug problem and the creation of a multiagency task force against it as his major contribution. “We now made some progress with the creation of the drug court. And the Legislature has appropriated $2 million for the new substance abuse program.”
“We also increased funding for Customs for additional manpower and equipment. Provided funding to support programs to rehabilitate individuals who were affected by this menace in our society so they could become productive members of our community. We are working toward the elimination of this problem.”