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OPINION | Repeal Article 12

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AFTER seeing our people struggle in their daily lives, I can see why our government is facing this fiscal challenge especially when we don't have the safety net to soften the impact when we hit rock bottom. The Covid-19 may be partly to blame from the shortage of 25% funding for the retirees to the unpaid teachers at the public schools and from the layoff private sector employees to the furloughed civil service workers.

The struggle is real in the CNMI. There is nothing put away for the rainy days. It seems that from the get go, we were made to believe that the "government" is the answer to all our problems when in fact it is not. In most cases, the government is the problem. But that is another subject of discussion.

I am writing to offer my two cents worth of suggestion regarding the governor's call to address the CNMI's fiscal crises. The crises based on the briefing paper that is provided is that the unaudited financial information shows that the CNMI is operating on a $65 million deficit for FY 2020. And we now have approximately $77.2 million to carry us until September 30, 2020. We are truly in a deep hole. So it is fair to say that for FY 2021, our economy is uncertain. And this might be worse if we have a protracted economic growth.

Again, how did we get to this financial mess is another topic of discussion. For now, I'd like to offer a possible suggestion and/or solution to get us out of these fiscal financial crises.

First is to allow our people “NOT” to be dependent on the government. Allow them to prosper for themselves. How? We need to objectively look at what is holding down our people and to improve their standard of living comparable to those living in the United States. I am talking about removing and repealing Article 12 so that it will allow our people to market their real estate properties to the highest bidder.

We need to create a marketable title real estate industry for those who wish to exercise their right as "owners" as to what they want to do with their real estate property. Whether to lease it, rent it, barter it or sell it outright. It should be their decision and not the government. But it is a touchy and controversial subject and most politicians do not want to take a stand on the issue.

Our founding documents, the Covenant and our Constitution, placed a 25-year provision so that we will not be exploited by outsiders. And so that is why the Article 12 was placed in our Constitution. But it has been over 41 years since then and now it is time that we lift the restrictions of Article 12 to allow our people to decide for themselves what to do with
their real estate properties. To lease it, rent it, barter it, or sell it. Or not to do anything with it and keep it forever.

So the solution for our fiscal crises is for our current government to provide our people with the quickest and most efficient guidance to repeal Article 12 as soon as possible. A possible solution is to repeal it by senatorial district. In Rota and Tinian then in Saipan.

If we do not explore this possible solution to address the fiscal crises that our government is facing, we will forever be dependent on our government. The underlying benefit for our people is to allow them to prosper and not be dependent on the government thereby addressing the fiscal crises. If economic recovery is protracted, our local people will suffer irreparable harm. We need to untie the choke-hold of Article 12. The time is now.

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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