Gov. Ralph DLG Torres assured that he and other community members are working on a long-term fix to the labor crisis besetting the CNMI.
Torres said yesterday that his administration and other stakeholders are working on a CW-1 bill to propose to Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP).
“For several months now, we have been working on a CW bill for the long run, including an extension, and the number of CW-1 slots we are requesting,” said the governor.
Torres is working with members of the private sector through the Strategic Economic Develop Council and the Northern Marianas Business Alliance Corp.
Torres, however, has yet to meet with Sablan regarding the CW-1 package.
He said he appreciates the 350 slots added to the CNMI’s CW-1 quota for the fiscal year, thanks to Sablan’s H.R. 339, which U.S. President Donald J. Trump enacted last week.
“… Ultimately, lives are going to be saved [with] nurses and engineers and so forth. … Our goal is to increase [the CW-1 slots] to 18,000 and then extend it for another 10 years,” said Torres on the goals of the CW package.
“It is our job to make sure that Congress understands our situation and to advocate our situations here,” said the governor, adding that what he wishes from Congress is not a bailout but to “not restrict hiring our labor because without our workforce we won’t be able to develop our infrastructure.”
Torres wishes that the local government is more involved in discussions as well to “dictate what our goals are here.”
“Without the government’s involvement, it is very difficult to project what kind of workforce is being applied,” said Torres, without mentioning a specific timeline for the package as well as a timeline for when he is meeting with Sablan.
In previous interviews with Sablan, he reiterated multiple times that H.R. 339 is meant to be a short-term fix.