Citing the financial crisis and the administration’s austerity measures, Sen. Teresita A. Santos (Ind-Rota) has asked the Northern Marianas Housing Corp., the Marianas Public Land Trust, the Commonwealth Development Authority, and six banks to make a “humanitarian gesture” to CNMI loan customers by offering a 90-day loan payment deferment program or an income-based repayment.
Santos asked the nine institutions to temporarily defer or lower monthly payments for loan customers.
The senator made the request in separate letters last week and yesterday to NMHC corporate director Jesse Palacios, MPLT administrator Barbara Reyes, Commonwealth Development Authority executive director Manuel A. Sablan, City Trust Bank manager Maria L. Johnson, Bank of Saipan president/chief executive officer John Arroyo, Bank of Guam vice president/CNMI regional manager Marcie Tomokane, Bank of Hawaii branch manager Joe Fujihira, Bank Pacific office manager Marvin Deleon Guerrero, and First Hawaiian Bank branch manager Vickie Izuka.
Santos said Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ recent declaration of a state of significant emergency, coupled with the loss of the CNMI’s tourism market and the uncertainty of how soon the tourism industry will bounce back, has left many people in the midst of a financial crisis. Santos said this will leave many people unable to make their monthly loan payments. She noted that many are even still recovering from the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yutu’s destructions in October 2018.
Santos said the Torres-Palacios administration’s announcement last Friday about implementing austerity measures that will cut government employees’ biweekly 80 hours down to 64 hours will further exacerbate the financial capability of most families to purchase basic necessities as well as pay loans, mortgages, and other debts that they may owe.
Santos added that the cost of living on Rota is exorbitant already and will add burden on families that have long struggled to make ends meet.
“The impending financial crisis will have an unavoidable ripple effect that will trickle down to the private sectors and their employees as well,” the senator said in her letter.