Slider
Slider

|

Slider

Speaker: House panel is looking into emergency OT pay

Local
Typography
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

SPEAKER Blas Jonathan T. Attao on Thursday said he had yet to review, in detail, Attorney General Edward E. Manibusan’s letter to the Office of the Public Auditor regarding the Yutu-overtime pay issue, but he added that House Special Committee on Federal Assistance and Disaster Related Funding is looking into the issue.

“As we all know, we created this special committee to look into the federal funds that are coming in, not just for the Covid-19, but also to look at the history of all the federal funds that came in for the CNMI,” he said.

The speaker added that this also applies to future federal funding that the Commonwealth will receive.

Speaker Blas Jonathan T. Attao is interviewed in his office at the legislative building on Capital Hill. Photo by K-Andrea Evarose S. Limol

“We need to make sure that every dollar is stretched to its maximum before we just deplete our accounts. The unfortunate thing is the pandemic is not only affecting the CNMI; it’s affecting the world. We’re part of the United States, but I’m sure that the 50 states will always come first before the territories. They’re hurting, too, so we have to be smart with the dollars that we get.”

He added, “We have to be very cognizant and very protective of every dollar we spend. That’s the theory behind creating the [special] committee, so that we have accountability.”

He said if the CNMI falls short and ends up paying out of its local funds, it is unclear where the Commonwealth will draw funds from.

“With the depleting funds that we have, or the uncollected monies that we’re not getting with the main industry being in exodus here in the CNMI right now, where are we going to find the funds?” he asked.

Regarding furloughed employees, he said: “It’s challenging. It’s very unfortunate, but the special committee is taking all of this seriously. We’ve seen two different documents that are specific to May, and that’s alarming because if there are documents that popped out in May, what about the starting quarter of the furloughs and Covid-19 [in] March and April? Were there any payments done?”

He said, “It’s a really sad situation that we have to come to this point on the fact that we furlough people [and] we’re cutting hours…. We’re trying to get to the bottom of every single dollar that’s being spent, so that we have answers to what our problems are, or at least, if we have problems down the road, we have the solutions, [and] we can present how we got to these problems in the first place. We want to avoid not having answers to the problems that we face today.”

Speaker Attao said that there have been operational cuts in the House of Representatives since before the pandemic due to the economic downturn in the CNMI, and even more so in light of the global pandemic.

“If there’s any entity that has been making cuts since we walked in the 21st Legislature, it’s this legislative body,” he said.

 

 

previous arrow
next arrow
Shadow
Slider

Read more articles

Visit our Facebook Page

previous arrow
next arrow
Shadow
Slider