The CNMI Department of Labor is expected to release today up to $20 million worth of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, according to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres.
At the radio press briefing yesterday, the governor also said that the administration is getting more people to help the department process the applications.
“We got some good news that around $19 million to $20 million will be disbursed today and tomorrow for nearly additional 3,000 PUA applicants. So, we’re almost there, but not quite. But we’ve been getting more folks into helping do the manual inputs [for PUA],” he said.
According to the governor, the delays in some of the applications are due to the documents being incomplete or needing to be verified.
“We’ve seen a lot of applications that have been held back for [being] incomplete and need[ing] verification on some of the information that’s been provided. I know that some…feel that we’re taking too long, but at the same time, we want to make sure that the information that are being processed are processed right once,” he explained.
As for ongoing concerns about CNMI contract workers not being eligible for PUA, and when asked about Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan’s (Ind-MP) statement that the local government could have pushed back and argued with the federal agencies regarding the CARES Act’s intent, the governor raised that changes needed to be made in the U.S. Congress regarding the CARES Act.
“If you look at it, we can…argue every argument out there. The simple question is, is CW included in the Cares Act? If the answer’s yes, they will process it. If the answer is no, then please make those changes,” he said.
Last week, Labor Secretary Vicky Benavente stated that they are working on processing as many PUA applications, “working on a daily basis anywhere between 300 and 500 applications,” but the vetting takes time, given the errors and inaccuracies in the documents.
Labor also earlier announced that they will be scheduling outreach sessions with different organizations, to assist people with filling out the applications.
To ask about the status of your PUA application, as well as for other questions, email the Department of Labor at email@example.com.