Even though the CNMI Constitution authorizes the governor to reprogram available funds for other purposes during a state of emergency, the Fitial administration said it has no intention of doing so on the $7 million the public hospital is asking from the Marianas Public Land Trust.
Gov. Benigno R. Fitial emphasized this in a press briefing Thursday at the Kagman Community Health Center where he assured that all pennies that will be drawn down from the MPLT credit line will go to the needs of the hospital.
A law that provides an additional $7 million line of credit to the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. has already been enacted but the funds have not yet been made available pending the corporation's submission of several requirements to MPLT.
MPLT board chair Pedro Deleon Guerrero told Saipan Tribune that MPLT is holding on to the money until both the corporation and the Office of Attorney General submit some documents as parties to the loan agreement.
Deleon Guerrero revealed that an informal meeting took place between the MPLT lawyer and corporation representatives on Tuesday, but this does not bring the “final agreement” to a close.
“Until we are clear [with all the requested documents and records], we can't move forward,” he said, adding that the $7 million is intended not to be drawn down at once but on a per-need request only by the corporation.
Once the $7 million becomes available and has been deposited to either the corporation's account or the Finance Department, MPLT will have no more say on the funds, Deleon Guerrero said. This means, he said, that the governor can reprogram them under the emergency declaration.
Fitial said his office is working with the corporation to make sure that the MPLT money is spent “prudently and wisely.”