Monument for Kilili

Though we’ve reached 40 years of self-government without pomp and circumstance, it is fitting to honor pioneers who took the leadership role that started our long journey home since days of yore.

The one person who deserves such accolade is the elder Gregorio Sablan (Kilili) who was entrusted the role of the first civilian government here after the war. Though he died while in office he was highly revered as a charismatic wise man of the village. He was the first to carry the torch of leadership in the birth and embryonic growth of “We the people.”

I’m sure his vision included our taking charge of our affairs. After all, our ancestors have survived the failed agenda of four colonial powers. It proves that we can handle our affairs with a sense of vision, humility, conviction, and commitment.

Definitely, he deserves a larger than life-size monument that should be placed prominently at American Memorial Park. He is the historic icon of self-government here! It’s time that we begin recognizing indigenous icons that laid the groundwork for self-rule.

Season: Every two to four years in November we march to polling places basically to elect the next set of policymakers. It’s a group we think is capable of planning the future of these isles through policies. It includes economics, fiscal management and future investments.

In doing so, it’s good to assess what are the issues so you could ably size it up against every candidate and his/her ability to tackle them through to completion. Either that or you could skip their names.

We ask the most basic question: are candidates equipped with credentials relevant to these issues so there’s initial clarity of understanding as they prepare to get to work? Or is the lack of it a serious setback from the outset making the task a guessing game?

Protracted our accomplishing strong governance, such is the fallacy of a democracy that takes years of refinement. It’s all in the palm of our hands!

Economy: What is it and is it a concept fully understood with all its complexities? Or is the usual contentment with what we have now the accepted modus operandi? Is it an informed position? Is there a plan in place now?

Is fiscal management a forte? If the answer is in the affirmative didn’t Da Boysis just raised their income by 80 percent doubled down by increasing cabinet and deputies’ salaries by 56 percent? Simultaneously, there’s a projection of CHC crashing into budgetary shortfall by some $13 million? Isn’t this a vital issue of concern for people at the helm? How did you miss fiduciary duty on this score?

Retirement: Speaker Ralph Demapan tries to revive the retirement system a difficult undertaking given that the source of fund turns heavily suspect. It simply asks: who pays for current retirees’ paycheck? It’s the current government employees! It’s basically a Ponzi scheme. Isn’t there the benefit of recent history to review here?

It means that in order for the 3,000 some retirees to receive their paychecks we have to have an excess number of government employees to meet this payroll. But what happens if revenue goes Deep South and can’t pay for that many public sector employees? The dire consequence would ricochet and slam retirees` pay, right?

Not sure how much the local government pays into this program (and I’m sure it’s in the millions of dollars, annually) and is it an amount it could afford and for how long? Hell, even U.S. Social Security is projected to go bankrupt by 2030 that could end money for recipients including this son of metformin. Has anyone seriously taken critical ocular review into the fiscal viability of the local retirement program?

What If… Kilili raised a fiscally responsible query: what if casino dries up? Or can the island even compete with Japan and nearby Asian countries equipped with the same economic venture? These countries are also ensuring their rich players stay home. Smart.

How do we compete with Japan that has some 26 million multi-millionaires? How many millionaires are here? Would they waste their lifetime earnings in a game of chance? Or isn’t it best spent in the education of their children and grandchildren?

Economically, our eyesight is set no further than the nose of a fruit fly. We play second fiddle to whatever descends and we subsequently wrap in indigenous contentment. Ever wonder why the lack of entrepreneurial culture? Is there a reasonable substitute for it in the event the economic scaffold crumbles?

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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