Governor Lou Leon Guerrero says her administration has no plans to follow Saipan’s lead and terminate or furlough any GovGuam employees.
But she is acknowledging that the island’s economy may take a few years to recover.
“Right now I am not planning any furloughs for government employees,” the governor said.
She added that terminations and layoffs of GovGuam employees would only create more people in need of assistance and GovGuam, she said, has sufficient funds to make payday for its employees, at least for now.
“Right now, with our financials that we are looking at, we are still able to make payroll and I’m trying as best as I can to keep the employees employed. Because I think that’s the most balanced and prudent way to deal with this. If I can continue paying our employees, I will continue paying our employees,” the governor said.
Still, the damage being done to the island’s economy is severe. The bond rating agency Standard & Poor’s today downgraded various GovGuam bonds to negative from stable, citing the significant decline in tourism activity due to health and safety risks posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have no tourists. Our tourism industry, I would say, is below zero. Predictions are that we would have a negative tourist arrival of close to 700,000. It is dire straits for our economy,” the governor said.
And the prospects for a quick recovery this year are dim.
“There are estimations that it will take anywhere from one to two years to totally recover from this pandemic,” the governor said.