Two days before leaving Saipan, Attorney General Edward T. Buckingham wrote an Aug. 2 letter to the Legislature informing them that the government has more than $27 million in unpaid judgments needing appropriations. Most of them are related to land claims.
Buckingham cited 1 CMC 7207 which states in part, “Any final judgment of a court shall be paid only pursuant to an item of appropriations for settlement and awards.”
The current budget bill for fiscal year 2013 has “zero” for payments of settlements and awards.
“This letter is meant to inform the Senate and the House of Representatives of currently outstanding and unpaid judgments and settlements awaiting appropriation by the Legislature,” Buckingham told Senate President Paul Manglona (Ind-Rota) and House Speaker Eli Cabrera (R-Saipan) in a five-page letter.
Manglona said yesterday the Senate will be looking into the matter as it works on the FY 2013 budget bill. The government has $114 million in projected resources available for government appropriations for FY 2013 which begins on Oct. 1.
There are 15 claimants or group of claimants still owed over $27 million by the government.
The biggest amount is $11.43 million, which the CNMI government needs to pay to the heirs of Manaabao in the CNMI v. Lot 353 New-G et al., Superior Court Civil No. 97-0266. The date of judgment was June 10, 2011.
Also on the list is over $5.9 million that the CNMI Department of Lands and Natural Resources needs to pay Marine Revitalization Corp. and Anthony Pellegrino. The date of judgment was May 10, 2005.
The other government agencies responsible for the payments were the Department of Public Lands, Commonwealth Health Center, and the Department of Public Works.