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Furlough notices out next week, governor says

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THE lists of executive branch employees who will be furloughed have already been submitted to his office, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said in an interview on Thursday.


“Furlough notices will be out next week, and their effectivity will be the next week after,” he added.
Due to the steep drop in government revenue caused by the massive economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the CNMI government has to cut personnel costs by 50%.
“Tough decisions have to be made,” the governor said. “Revenues are down 50% so we need to make those adjustments now.”
He added that the furloughs will be implemented in consultation with the Office of Personnel Management and the Attorney General’s Office.
But there will be no reduction in the number of critical employees, the governor said. These include personnel of the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, healthcare agencies, and “especially those with the Covid-19 response operations.”
“We won’t be seeing tourists for the rest of the year — perhaps even for most of next year,” he said. “We may have to cut more, as everyone is aware that we rely heavily on our tourism as our main revenue resource.”
The CNMI government has more than 3,000 employees.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
Governor Torres said his administration also sought clarification from the U.S. Department of Labor regarding the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA provided by the recently enacted federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or CARES Act.
“We should have a clear guideline by Monday,” he said. “We will follow the guidelines set forth by the U.S. Congress, and our mandate is to make sure that information about those guidelines is disseminated to the community.”
He added that under the CARES Act, qualified taxpayers are each entitled to a one-time payment of $1,200 or $2,400 for married couples and an additional $500 for each child.
PPE
On early Thursday morning, Governor Torres said the CNMI received a second batch of personal protective equipment or PPE and medical supplies from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S Air Force.
He said the PPE and medical supplies were requested by the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. for its healthcare professionals and providers.
More medical supplies are coming, worth up to $500,000, the governor added. “We want to assure our doctors and nurses and the rest of our first responders that we will continue working hard to make sure the supplies they need are here on island, and that they will not be short of needed medical supplies as they provide medical care to our community.”

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