Two-day virtual summit will convene CNMI leaders
Leaders across the Commonwealth—from the Executive Branch, the Legislature, and business community, as well as members of the public—will take part in the first-ever CNMI Fiscal Response Summit from April 23, 2020 to April 28, 2020, to discuss the government’s $65-million revenue shortfall in fiscal year 2020.
The amount, $65 million, is the deficit directly attributed to the COVID-19 outbreak, as projected by the Fiscal Response Task Force designated by Gov. Ralph DLG Torres to comprehensively review the fiscal and economic crisis being faced by the CNMI.
“The global outbreak of COVID-19 has resulted in a deep and dramatic shift in the structure of our economy and how our community interacts with one another and the world. These repercussions have caused tremendous consequences to employment, incomes and to obtaining the revenue necessary to support essential government services and programs. …Our community must come together to chart a path forward for its government in new and innovative ways,” said Torres.
With only half of the fiscal year remaining to make adjustments, the task force, with technical support from Graduate School USA, will convene the summit “to allow for representatives of all stakeholders in the Commonwealth to fully comprehend and deeply understand the size and nature of the current crisis,” said Rep. Tina Sablan (Ind-Saipan).
The summit will build upon the findings of the Governor’s Fiscal Response Task Force, which is composed of members from the CNMI Department of Finance, Office of Management and Budget, and Graduate School USA. Last month, the task force created the Commonwealth Fiscal Response Briefing Paper that describes the fiscal position of the CNMI, the current economic climate, and the factors that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 outbreak.
The briefing paper outlines a framework to discuss reforms and a process for leaders within the CNMI to collaborate on addressing longstanding structural issues.
According to Sablan, the kinds of reforms that are necessary to restructure the CNMI government and stabilize its finances will require people coming together from all sectors to honestly confront the problems and build consensus around solutions.
“Some painful decisions will have to be made, and it’s important to have buy-in from the community, and especially the people and institutions that will be directly affected. I think it’s also important for the process to be inclusive, participatory, and transparent, and to have sound data and the technical analysis we need to guide our decisions.”
Sablan added that USA Graduate School can provide the technical support, along with the professional staff within all three branches of government.
“The sooner we can go through this process together, the sooner we can develop an action plan that has the broad support of citizens and leaders and that will guide us through this most severe crisis and hopefully lay the groundwork for a healthier and more sustainable future.”
The summit will begin today and will take place virtually, until April 27.