April 11, 2006
Fund’s debt with health providers may shoot up
The NMI Retirement Fund’s debt with health providers may increase three-fold if it is not settled before June 30, when the Fund’s contract with third party administrator Hawaii Pacific Medical Referral expires. Fund administrator Karl T. Reyes said yesterday that, excluding the $7 million debt with the Commonwealth Health Center, the Group Health Insurance program owes HPMR $2.7 million for billings charged by health providers—hospitals and health centers—in Guam, Hawaii, and the U.S mainland. The $2.7 million is the discounted amount obtained through HPMR. If this is not paid before the HPMR contract’s expiration on June 30, authorities fear that the Fund may be charged the original amount.
MLK Day in the NMI—at last!
Gov. Benigno R. Fitial will sign today a House bill that would establish a Martin Luther King Day in the Commonwealth. House Bill 15-37, once enacted, will become Public Law 15-4. It was passed by the House of Representatives on March 6, 2006 and by the Senate three days later. The measure will make Martin Luther King Day—commemorated on the third Monday of January—a legal holiday in the Northern Marianas. But the number of legal holidays will remain at 14, as the bill will combine Commonwealth Day and Covenant Day into one holiday. The day will be called Commonwealth Covenant Day and observed on the current Covenant Day, March 24.
April 11, 2007
Hundreds camp out to file taxes
Although disappointed by the failure of the government to release their rebates on time, hundreds of CNMI taxpayers are still taking considerable time to line up and file their income tax returns before the April 17 deadline. “People are camping out here. They come here as early as 5am to 6am to be the first in line. When I arrived at 8am, everybody else was here. There’s plenty of people,” said Isabelle Piyalmai, who was holding a No. 47 printed on a yellow paper. She was one of the many who patiently waited for their turn to enter the tax assistance center at the Revenue & Taxation Division Office at the ground floor of Joeten Dandan building.
‘Action is right response to human trafficking’
The number of human trafficking victims in the CNMI is closer to 40 than the 30 reportedly housed at a local shelter, Federal Ombudsman James Benedetto says. According to Benedetto, his office has served as first point of contact for most of the victims of human trafficking in the Commonwealth. His office interviewed the victims and referred them to federal and CNMI law enforcement agencies for action. “And I can report to you right now that there were not 30 trafficking victims in the CNMI,” he told the Saipan Rotary Club at the Hyatt Regency Saipan yesterday.
April 11, 2008
Census shows poorer NMI
The average income each person makes in the Northern Marianas dropped by a third between 2000 and 2004, according to a census report released yesterday. The census, conducted in the last quarter of 2005, found that the CNMI per capita income plunged to $6,178 in 2004, from $9,151 in 2000. The Commonwealth’s household income and family income mirrored the decline in per capita income. Each household made an average income of $25,172 in 2004, down from $37,015 in 2000. The average family income plunged to $28,461 in 2004, from $37,986 in 2000.
Pending applications for homesteads reach 3,878
There are 3,878 homestead applications that are still on the waiting list at the Department of Public Lands, some of them dating back to the early ’80s. DPL homestead director Manny Rabauliman said the issuance of homestead lots to those pending applications had been stalled due to the lack of available public lands. “If you look at the number of pending applications, it’s obvious that we cannot house that many people,” Rabauliman said. Each homestead applicant who is granted a homestead lot is given 1,000 square meters worth of land. The homestead program is on a first-come, first-served basis. The last homesteader issued a lot was in 2007 and it was given to an applicant who had applied for it in the early ’80s.