Deepening fiscal impotence


For most families throughout the Marianas Archipelago, the local economy is like a football team that can’t move the ball, and it hasn’t been able to do so for the last two decades. Disgusted and exhausted, we sit around the ball field waiting for sunset so we could go home without moving the ball, again.

Realistically, it’s a tough ball to move without securing a new playbook that includes infusion of major investments with real capital for purposes of scaffolding the local economy. Moreover, it should be understood that only investments or businesses create jobs. And you can’t have jobs without a business. Jobs create all incomes wherever investments are infused. It’s commonsense economics.

Finally, is the NMI really prepared for major infusion of large capital investments? In other words, have we emplaced basic infrastructure to allow investments to move in tandem over the next year so? Or did we slam our larger than mouth foot for failing to do due diligence? BSI acknowledges lack of land, infrastructure and labor. Exactly my point!

Can the two Ralphs (Torres and Demapan) explain the rush to judgment on casino? Or do we join Sixto do the dives into the trench to see if our black box of bankruptcy still does the “ping?” Is profligate spending under control or is it still continuing but wrapped in imaginative denial?

Freebies galore: Is the NMI sinking into a permanent welfare entity? What’s the implication that such is the seeming pathway today? Obviously this is attributable to the deepening economic depression at home. An economic depression is quadruple that of normal recession, the latter involves two quarters of zero-sum growth.

The harm against recipients moves in like a stealth bomber we can’t see on our radar screen. It drops the bomb and moves out of sight. The bomb is the reliance on entitlement freebies like food stamps, Medicaid, housing voucher, among others.

Would recipients still receive the same level of assistance when federal funds for these programs are spent or depleted? Who shoulders this obligation like the $8.5 million SNAP when funds fade into the sunset? Please make it a point to take a quick glimpse into the narrative of these programs if there are sunset provisions. If so, then please brace for it in advance. I quite don’t buy the notion of setting up the NMI for complete failure.

Recommended cuts: The NMI doesn’t need a 29-member bicameral legislature. Cut it down to a 10-member body, one each for Tinian and Rota the rest from Saipan. After all, what has a bicameral legislature done in signature legislation that has substantially increased the economic wellbeing of our people?

There has to be realignment of responsibilities from the redundancy and waste of taxpayers’ money we find in every office today. In one area, it requires major constitutional amendment to place our “indigenous” offices under a single roof.

Let’s use the Office of Indigenous Affairs as the overall umbrella, placing DPL, DCCA, MPLT, Carolinian and Women’s affairs under it. Staff transfer shouldn’t be done en masse but reduced to skeletal level, placing the most qualified folks to run these agencies. It should allow for purposeful collaboration and substantial cuts in excess baggage.

For instance, DPL’s constitutional mandate is homestead development. It obviates the query: Does it really need over 90 drone staff people doing nothing daily at the expense of the indigenous landowners? Hello? The excess baggage must go! It takes coconuts, though, to get this done. Volunteers?

Why do we have legislative delegations? When do we grow up? We have councils, legislative delegations, legislature, etc. Ironic our belief in “everything is government” spouting self-government that we can’t even fix at the rudimentary level. Or is there anything else in redundancy that we miss by oceans apart?

Short-lived euphoria: There was euphoria about BSI’s $7.1 billion casino approved by the shortsighted elected elite upstairs without verification of investment capability. It would be referred to the Hong Kong Securities Commission for investigation. Why promote a project in the billions when BSI’s net tangible asset is around $119 million?

Wasted the political cheering and servile co-optation of superficial billions from casino as the savior of a now fiscally impotent government. Woe! No worries! Sixto and cabal are out diving to find our black box. They promise to haul it to the surface if it is located. Sixto reiterated “if” he finds it, cleeaaaa?

Strengthening CS: Beyond Cabinet level posts, all other employees must matriculate into the civil service system. This ensures you earn your dues via skills acquisition rather than how loud you yell “biba.” It also ensures that salaries for public sector employees aren’t exploited politically fudging in favor of the dime-a-dozen Pinocchios.

John S. Del Rosario Jr. | Contributing Author
John DelRosario Jr. is a former publisher of the Saipan Tribune and a former secretary of the Department of Public Lands.

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