The CNMI Department of Commerce, through the administration, was awarded two grants by the Office of Insular Affairs.
According to Commerce Secretary Mark Rabauliman, they were given $90,000 and $240,000 worth of grants for two projects.
The first one is the Technical Assistance Program grant for regional weights and measurements capacity building, not only for the CNMI but for the whole Micronesia Region as well.
“That is basically to develop standardization across the board in terms of weights and measures and also to showcase what are the new tools out there that are available,” Rabauliman said.
This will help in ensuring that buyers receive and sellers provide the weight and measure represented in all commercial transactions so that equity may prevail and that all consumers receive the true measure of what they pay for.
The objective is to meet the requirements of the weights and measures standards and regulations established by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology.
According to the U.S Department of Interior, the funds for this grant “will be used for regional training and certification of weights and measures inspectors” as well as “implementation of new equipment and tools to allow for uniformity of measurement techniques for the CNMI and the region.”
“We’re going to contract a specialist out in the U.S to come and train, not only our folks here in the CNMI, but the invitation will be open also to our Micronesian islands,” Rabauliman said.
USDOI noted that the CNMI estimates $3 million in annual losses to fraud due to inaccurate weights and measurements to more than 6,000 40-foot containers arrive at the Saipan seaport each year.
The second grant is for the state access online portal which will streamline and will serve as a tool for business and individuals to access social services benefits, apply for business license, and file tax online among others.
Rabauliman noted that the portal will serve as a virtual one-stop help center for the CNMI government and will cut costs and improves accountability and efficiency.
“The concept behind that, is trying to enable the CNMI to move forward in the technological world,” Rabauliman said.
They are currently reviewing online portal tools being offered in some states in the mainland such as California, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
“Not only do I want to thank the Office of Grants Management but also Press Secretary Ivan Blanco for his assistance in developing the concept,” Rabauliman said.
“It’s really trying to work towards streamlining and having easy access for the people that we serve. With all the increasing bandwidth, it’s really an opportune time to really try and put those things in place,” he added.