CNMI Latest Money Woes and Schemes

April 26, 2012

Lea$ing an Island to the Japanese?
Last week it was revealed that the dynamic duo, Governor Fitial and Froilan Tenorio had proposed leasing a northern island to be used as a dump site. Tenorio appeared on KSPN to promote the scheme in his typical defensive and annoyed tone. Why wouldn't anyone want to lease an island to "get money"? Any proposal for money sounds good to this political pair; anything except proposals that would ensure lasting revenue like say an income, property or sales tax.

Today it was reported that Kansai Oil Company president Shoichi Higashinaka, Oku Shigeharu and Yusuke Nakano from the Tokyo Broadcasting System flew to Pagan to check out the island.  Lt. Governor Inos was quoted as saying, "This will create a new industry for the CNMI." Dumping trash on islands is a new industry? Isn't this a proposal that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would need to approve? What do the CNMI people think of this idea?

A Saipan Tribune article states that  the Japanese may be as interested in mining prozzolan as they are in using the island as a dump:
Isamu Tokuichi, executive director of Asia Mining Development PTE Ltd., and Yukio Oita, chief executive officer and representative director of Kankyo Kaizen Kiko Co. Ltd, led a six-member investor team in meeting with Fitial, Inos, and Tenorio on Capital Hill.

Tenorio, after the meeting, said Tokuichi and the rest of the group are firm in buying tons of pozzolan and sell them in Japan.

Tokuichi's Asia Mining Development is willing to invest some $20 million in equipment alone to mine pozzolan on Pagan.

But to offset hefty costs of shipping tons of pozzolan, these Japanese investors are willing to bring tons of tsunami debris from different tsunami-ravaged Japanese prefectures-for a fee-on their way to Pagan.
So bring trash and take away prozzolan.

Administration Reducing Food $tamp Benefits
The Fitial Administration, which recently tried to illegally prohibit U.S. citizen children of foreign parents from collecting food stamp benefits, now announces a reduction in benefits. From the Office of the Governor:
The CNMI Nutrition Assistance Program/Food Stamp Office says that effective May 1, benefits levels will be reduced by 13.6 percent.

This reduction in benefits is implemented in order to accommodate increases in the number of applicants seeking the services of the CNMI Nutrition Assistance Program.
This reduction will remain in effect until the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30, 2012.

Should recipients have any further questions, call 664-2571.
CNMI Could Lose Million$ in Medicaid Funding
The Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted to slash $100 million from the CNMI Medicaid Program. Not only did these members vote in favor of enormous cuts, but they voted to increase the CNMI's contribution by 11 percent.

The 30 to 22 vote was along party lines and would put the poor and children in the crossfires taking $113B out of health insurance and public health programs across the country. How's that Republican alignment working out Governor Fitial?

Commonwealth Health Center May Lose Federal Grant$
At a February meeting in San Francisco CHC administrators were reportedly told by Region IX Medicaid managers that if the hospital did not come into compliance quickly, the hospital would lose funding.

Administrators claim that a partnership with Idaho-based ICS is the solution to the problems. That is doubtful. The CHC is certain to fail. The legislature and governor made sure of that by allocating a mere $5 million to run the institution knowing full well a budget of 5 to 6 times that amount is required annually for it to stay afloat. Even with an $11.58 million loan from the MPLT, it is unlikely that the CHC can recover any time soon.

Reque$t to Redirect CIP Funds
Governor Fitial asked the U.S. Department of Interior Department of Insular Affairs to redirect $4.35 in Capitol Improvement Funds to operating funds for the PSS and CHC. When told that CIP funds are not for operating expenses, Fitial changed his request to $3.5 for CUC.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wendy said . . .

Any proposal for money sounds good to this political pair; anything except proposals that would ensure lasting revenue like say an income, property or sales tax.

The CNMI has a local income tax ranging from 2% for those earning over $1K per year to 9% for those earning over $50K per year. Yet Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming have no income tax. (TN & NH tax dividends & interest income.)

There is also the mirror image NMTIT, analogous to the federal Income Tax. While it has a 90% rebate, that is subject to change; in the 1990s it was reduced to 70%, and is also much lower for the extremely wealthy.

Overall, the average CNMI resident pays a higher percentage of income in taxes than those in the mainland with a similar income.

Likewise, as to sales tax, the Business Gross Receipts Tax serves the same function.

You also disregard the fact that due to geographical isolation affecting prices of things like gasoline, utilities, and anything imported (almost anything), the cost of living in the CNMI is far, far greater than in the mainland for an equivalent lifestyle.

You lived in Rota. Do you think the people there can afford to pay more taxes?! Landlords won't pass a property tax on? The people of the CNMI are struggling terribly, yet you continue your vindictive vendetta against CNMI politicians, which ultimately ends up hurting the poorest of the poor in the CNMI.

Please rethink your tactics and the consequences of your actions.

Wendy Doromal said...

12:01

There is a mentality in the CNMI that the federal tax payers should fund the islands and bail them out when funds dry up. Inefficiency, waste and misuse of funds -no problem -the federal taxpayers will come to the rescue. At the same time the politicians want to re=examine their relationship with the U.S.

Obviously, whatever taxes exist in the CNMI they are not enough to bring in needed revenue. I do not think it is unreasonable to look at taxes -property and sales tax especially. Businesses are closing up and the revenue certainly is not sufficient or the CNMI would not be in the near bankrupt state that it is currently.

I have no vendetta with the politicians but a deep distrust and disdain for their self-serving agendas that have created and perpetuated the problems that adversely impact every person in the CNMI and especially the poor and the disenfranchised foreign workers.

Anonymous said...

Texas does not have an income tax, but they have the highest property tax that I have ever seen. Property taxes are extremely steep, and 7K per year is not uncommon on a 1500sq. ft. home.

I have mixed feelings about CHC. Although I don't think that patients should suffer, I also don't think that the CNMI government should pay for the incompetence of the hospital. For the month of October, the hospital received zero dollars in revenue from insurance companies and medicare. The hospital was open, but not one bill was submitted properly. Daily accountability needs to be made in each CHC department regarding profitability. Staff (including doctors and nurses)need to be updated regularly on how to become more profitable. An outside consultant needs to come into each and every department at CHC to assist in the revenue analysis of the entire hospital.