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Sunday, April 20, 2014

‘Reprogram unspent CIP money to CHC’

Sen. Ralph Torres (R-Saipan) pre-filed a joint resolution urging Gov. Benigno R. Fitial and the U.S. Department of the Interior to identify and reprogram unspent capital improvement project funds for fiscal years 2012, 2013, and 2014 and prior years to the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.

In his Senate Joint Resolution 18-1, Torres said unexpended CIP money should instead be used to replace, augment, and improve CHC’s facilities, including the need to buy new beds.

“CHC is in dire need to identify $600,000 to purchase brand new beds for all the rooms in the ICU [Intensive Care Unit], pediatric ward, regular rooms, emergency ward, etc.,” he said.

The resolution is expected to be adopted in the Senate’s next session on Tinian.

Torres also pre-filed Senate Bill 18-7, mandating the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. to change the water and sewage rate for the Public School System from government rate to commercial rate to help reduce PSS’ financial burdens.

Torres said PSS pays CUC a water rate of 4.4 cents a gallon and 6.8 cents a gallon for sewage. By changing these to commercial rates, PSS will be paying less. In 2012 alone, PSS paid more than $1.476 million for these services.

Senate President Jude Hofschneider (R-Tinian) also pre-filed a bill reviving a public lands board.

His SB 18-8 creates a Commonwealth Public Lands Corp. within the Executive Branch. It also transfers the obligations and responsibilities of the Department of Public Lands to this corporation.

“…The management of public lands by the Executive Branch in the past six years has skewed away from addressing a CNMI-wide approach to prudent land management practices,” the bill says.

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