Double whammy on NMI economy


The Office of the Public Auditor recognizes that, despite the upward trend in the CNMI’s financial posture in the last few years, it hit a considerable bump when Typhoon Mangkhut ravaged Rota and Super Typhoon Yutu devastated Saipan and Tinian in fiscal year 2019.

That double whammy of typhoons resulted in the two main drivers of the CNMI economy—tourism and gaming—at a nearly complete standstill for an extended period in fiscal year 2019, said the OPA in its single audit on the finances of the NMI government in fiscal year 2018.

“…Typhoon Mangkhut destroyed much of the resources for the island of Rota, and Super Typhoon Yutu devastated the islands of Tinian and Saipan. These disasters had detrimental effects [on] the CNMI’s economic activity, leaving the two main sectors of our economy [tourism and gaming] at a standstill for the first quarter of [fiscal year 2019],” the OPA report said.

The report noted, though, that, despite these disasters, the CNMI economy remained resilient. “[The CNMI continued] moving forward with investments in infrastructure and disaster aid services to rebuild the economy and the lives of its residents,” the report said.

OPA further noted that the CNMI is “optimistic” as foreign direct investment is continuing in the tourism sector, with developments in the northern end of Saipan and on Tinian.

“The reopening of established small- and medium-sized businesses after the typhoons stood at 85% in March 2019 and is anticipated to reach completion by the end of the fiscal year,” OPA noted. “Our forecasts for the gaming casino industry remains conservatively steady as this sector shows signs of slight contraction for a short period in the near future.”

The report also recognizes the emergence of the cannabis industry, which is anticipated to take off in the latter part of fiscal year 2019.

These factors will help “revitalize the CNMI economy and increase the CNMI’s financial resources.”

“The CNMI is optimistic for the year ahead as the continued improvement in infrastructure and economic activity rebounds from the shocking events experienced earlier in the [fiscal] year,” OPA concluded.

For those interested in looking at the 105-page report, visit www.opacnmi.com.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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