In response to Governor Arnold Palacios’s invitation and request to meet, the Honorable Carmen G. Cantor, Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior (International and Insular Affairs), has confirmed that she will be visiting the Commonwealth next week.
Assistant Secretary Cantor’s letter confirming her forthcoming visit was personally delivered to Governor Palacios by Harry Blanco, U.S. Department of Interior – Office of Insular Affairs Field Representative.
Governor Palacios, in his January 13, 2023, letter and request to meet with Assistant Secretary Cantor, stated that “…upon taking the oath of office and assuming my duties as the Governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, we have discovered that our government finances are in considerable disarray.”
Governor Palacios added, “Consistent with the historic relationship between the government and people of the CNMI and the Department of the Interior, I urgently request consultations to disclose the extent and scope of the challenges we face, and identify any measures of support and technical assistance your office and the Department of the Interior may be able to provide.”
In her response letter to Governor Palacios, Assistant Secretary Cantor also congratulated Governor Palacios on his being sworn in as the 10th elected Governor of the CNMI.
“There is no greater mandate under the CNMI Constitution and Commonwealth Covenant than that which the people of the CNMI have given you as their Governor,” said Assistant Secretary Cantor in her letter to the Governor.
Assistant Secretary Cantor also encouraged Governor Palacios to participate in the upcoming National Governors’ Association Winter Meeting, which includes the Interagency Group on Insular Area Senior Plenary Session.
“These meetings provide important opportunities to network with White House and ranking federal officials who possess valuable information and resources that may be helpful as you seek to address challenges in the CNMI during your new administration,” she added.
Governor Palacios stated during yesterday’s press conference that he would like to discuss the possibility of repurposing Technical Assistance Program (TAP) grants and other OIA grants or providing additional technical training and audit support.