Full payment of the CNMI retirees’ pension would resume on May 30, according to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres yesterday morning. The original intended date to resume full payments was May 15, but that had to be moved due to some challenges.
Right now, CNMI retirees are only getting 75% of their pensions but, according to the governor, he met with the leadership of the Legislature, both House Speaker Blas Jonathan Attao (R-Saipan) and Senate President Victor B. Hocog (R-Rota), with Sen. Frank Borja (R-Saipan) of Tinian, and several other partners, to rectify this matter.
“We wanted to push for May 15,” Torres said. “Unfortunately, there’s some challenges that we faced, but we will be making the [full] retirement pension available starting May 30. …The retirees will be getting their [full] pension starting May 30 moving forward.”
The CNMI retirees stopped receiving their full pension payments last April 15, after government funds got restricted following the lawsuit filed by the Public School System, demanding 25% of general funds, mandated by the CNMI Constitution, causing the 25% cut in the retirees’ pension.
PSS was recently awarded $22.3 million from the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, on top of the $5.58 million funding allocation from the U.S. Department of Education.
Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios said the administration is happy and delighted that PSS was included in the CARES Act. “We went through a lot of trials and tribulations, back and forth retirement issue, PSS funding, and all that…but, with the CARES Act and the resources that were made available to our school system, we’re very, very happy that we’ve gone past that issue of fighting each other over who’s going to get paid and who’s not going to get paid,” he added.
The lieutenant governor also said that the administration is confident that the PSS board and management will ensure that the funds are administered and managed appropriately.
Torres and Palacios also extended their appreciation to Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) for his work in the U.S. Congress in securing allocations for the CNMI.
“There’s also another person that certainly, we need to give a lot of credit to, and that is our Congressman Kilili, who works in Congress to make sure that when certain resources become available through congressional process, he makes sure that the CNMI is also included, and is taken care of,” Palacios said.
As for retirees asking if they would retroactively get their 25% unpaid pension for April, Hocog said in his social media account, “We are all working together to make those unpaid pension happen,” and that the “Secretary of Finance will work out ways with the Settlement Fund” to address the concern.