MVA board approves 72-work hour austerity measure

36 employees, including managing director Iakopo, affected

The Marianas Visitors Authority board of directors has agreed yesterday to adopt austerity measures that will cut down employee work hours from the regular 80 hours to 72 work hours. The move would affect all its 36 staff including managing director Priscilla Maratita Iakopo.

During a special board meeting, MVA vice chair Gloria Cavanagh and four other directors present—Viola Alepuyo, Warren Villagomez, Chris Nelson, and Agida Quitugua—unanimously approved the austerity measures that will take effect by June 23.

After three payrolls are made or by July, the board will meet again to decide whether there is a need to readdress whether to maintain the 72 hours cut or go further down at 64 hours.

The board also voted in favor of a motion to open MVA offices on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota five days a week despite the austerity measures.

MVA Saipan office has 26 employees, while Tinian and Rota have five staff each.

MVA managing director Iakopo explained to the board how the austerity measures will affect the staff financially.

Iakopo said to cover the fiscal year, the last pay period ending will be on Sept. 27.

Iakopo said after their reconciliation they were able to determine that they have $406,951 for payroll.

She said if they were to continue with the 80 hours, they would need to have $445,179.

She said if they would cut the work hours down to 72, they would need $411,284 or a shortfall of $4,333.

The managing director said if they would cut the work hours further down to 64, they need $377,319.

Iakopo said for 80 hours they are looking at on a bi-weekly payroll at $55,647; for 72 hours at $50,805; and for 64 hours at $45,963.

Iakopo shared with the board that she had spoken with all division managers, who agreed that the impact of the austerity measures to its operations is “slim.”

“What it is, is that they will be adjusting their schedules,” she said.

She said the division managers will be the ones making the scheduling adjustments as far as staff is concern.

Iakopo said she will be reviewing the schedules and operations to make sure that they are not hampering with their daily activities.

Iakopo said to keep MVA offices open at regular hours or five days a week, she will be working with the division managers to make sure that they do have employees available.

Cavanagh, who presided over the meeting with the absence of chair Marian Aldan-Pierce, noted that there was a directive from the Office of the Governor that asked everyone to implement austerity measures down to 72 hours starting on June 23.

Cavanagh said the employees have been notified that includes the contract employees, more than 10 days from the effective date, June 23.

However, the vice chairwoman said, they were not able to do board action, that actually approved it during their last meeting.

“That’s the main reason why we have this special board meeting,” Cavanagh said.

Cavanagh in an interview said their discussion of the austerity measures was easy as they have to adopt it.

“It wasn’t difficult especially with the new board member, Viola [Alepuyo], she has a vote and she wants to make sure that she understands everything. It’s just she wanted more information,” she said.

Cavanagh said MVA is an autonomous agency so they have to vote for the austerity measures.

The vice chairwoman last week disclosed that MVA owes its offshore offices about $1.7 million, as the Department of Finance has yet to remit $4 million in hotel occupancy tax to the MVA.

Under the new work hour cuts, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres reduced the operations of offices under the Executive branch, starting the pay period on June 23. Agencies will be closed every payday Friday beginning on July 5 until further notice.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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