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Rep Kaipat introduces bill to settle tax & worker repatriation liabilities

May '06
Abolition of international textile quota system in 2005, caused revenue loss in garment manufacturing operations of Commonwealth, which resulted into introduction of a bill in House of Representatives to follow a uniform procedure to wind up.

Decline in local apparel production on islands and subsequent closure of factories prompted Rep. Jacinta Kaipat to put up House Bill 15-131 in House of Representatives.

Saipan has 17 garment factories at present, barely half the number that was in 1999.

The bill is meant to ensure that garment manufacturers fulfill their tax obligation or employee repatriation liabilities, before removal of their assets from the islands.

Factory owners would need to give prior notice to workers much before terminating services and safeguard federal and other rights of terminated workers.

Repatriation of non resident workers and speeding up settlement of outstanding labor complaints would also have to be carried out.

If suitable work is available then laid off garment employees can be transferred to other employer within the stipulated time period, in certain cases.

"We need to be proactive in handling the garment situation. Workers are being displaced and we must act to protect them and the Commonwealth. I feel confident that the Legislature will pass this bill," Kaipat said.

Garment exports along with user fee collections from apparel industry of Saipan, has led to a decline in output to decade back levels, informed Richard Pierce, Governor's Special Assistant for Trade Relations.

Sales for March 2006 totaled only $37.3 million, which represented decrease of 35 percent, down from $57.2 million in the same month last year, whereas user fee collections amounted to just $1.382 million in revenue, he reported.

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