CNMI to conduct cost impact of coronavirus emergency

(PNC file photo)

CNMI Governor Ralph Torres has already declared a state of emergency due to the imminent threat of the coronavirus. But because of its possible effects on local tourism, the governor also directed agencies to do an immediate cost impact analysis and adjust the commonwealth’s budget accordingly.

Because of the potential loss of tourists, the governor said he has directed the Department of Finance and the Office of Management and Budget to undertake an immediate cost impact analysis and make recommendations for adjustments to the FY 2020 budget. This analysis will be given to the Legislature for consideration and consultation as needed, he added.

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“Economies across the Asia-Pacific region are already bracing for reduced tourist arrivals from China due to this outbreak, and as a government, we have to adapt and make adjustments with our Legislature,” the governor said.

“Finance and OMB have already started making their assessments, and we will look at making a determination with the Legislature on the potential impact on the FY 2020 budget, as well as projections for the FY 2021 budget,” the governor said.

He added: “As I mentioned in Tuesday’s MVA (Marianas Visitors Authority) meeting, this administration committed itself to diversifying our economy by revitalizing our Japanese tourism market through Skymark Airlines. This was a big win for the Marianas, and I, along with MVA, will continue to aggressively market the Marianas as a featured, coronavirus-free tourist destination.”

The governor said the administration will continue to monitor the outbreak and receive updates, and maintain constant engagement with global health partners such as the World Health Organization and federal partners such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the containment of the virus.

“As we continue to monitor this situation, we encourage our visitors from our other Asian source markets to come and enjoy our beautiful islands and our warm hospitality,” the governor said.