Many customers of the Commonwealth Ports Authority—both at its airport and seaport facilities—have been found owing the agency a huge amount, along with some former board members who owe CPA for their travel advances.
Frances Mafnas, the board’s finance committee chair, disclosed that CPA has a “bad debt” of $415,932—an amount that has been on the agency’s books for the longest time.
Following its auditor’s recommendation, the CPA management has proposed to write off this amount but some board members are balking at this suggestion.
Mafnas disclosed that of the $415,932 bad debt uncovered at CPA, the bulk is for the airport, which has $370,768, while the seaport accounts receivable is $45,164.
Mafnas recommended that the board first seek out a legal opinion on these aging accounts before finalizing any decision to write off the amount.
Saipan Tribune learned that all bad debts are carried forward from previous fiscal years and keep showing up on the books year after year until the amount is collected or written off.
For Rota board member Barrie Toves, the CPA board cannot just write off bad debts without having a clear and legal authority to do so. He is also concerned about the statute of limitation that the board may still use to possibly recoup the funds.
“If the statute of limitation is not an issue, then we must pursue and try to collect and that’s basically the issue here. I asked the management to be on top of this and seek legal opinion whether we can or not pursue it. If it’s not financially feasible [to collect], then that’s the only time we can think about writing off [these bad debts],” said Toves.
Board member Benigno Sablan wants all paper trail to be presented to the board so they would know how often CPA asked for payment of these outstanding accounts and if there’s a possibility that CPA can still take them to court.
Saipan Tribune learned that the bulk of the airport’s aging receivable, $350,000, was incurred in payroll while over $18,000 are collectibles from airport leases and over $1,800 are collectibles from former CPA board members for their travel advances.
Among the companies that owe CPA significant amounts is Good Day World Services, which leases the telephone booth at the Saipan airport and owes over $6,700. A company named Island Aviation Corp., which used to lease space, also owes the agency over $4,000 while Quality Concession, a lease on Tinian, owes CPA over $4,000. Another company that leased space at the Saipan airport and owes CPA $1,300 is Sook Enterprises Inc.
The accounts of these firms, it was learned, have been inactive since 2002 and 2005.
Saipan Tribune learned that two former CPA board members have unpaid travel advances. A former board chair reportedly owes the agency over $1,000 while a former Tinian board member incurred over $700 in travel advances. Another former board member also owes the agency some $90.
For the seaport side, total bad debts was at $45,164 composed of the following: outstanding lease payments, wharfage, others, over $7,000; accounts receivables from former board members, over $3,000; and payroll, over $34,000.