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Thursday, April 24, 2014

CDA: $1.25M CIP projects dormant for five years

Members of the Commonwealth Development Authority board disclosed yesterday that a substantial amount of government funds have been sitting idle for years due to the inaction of their assigned expenditure authorities.

CDA, which is the custodian of some portions of government CIP monies, disclosed at its meeting yesterday that it has on its record $4.84 million in CIP funds in the bank, of which $2.16 million is uncommitted and available for re-appropriation by the Legislature.

CDA comptroller Donnie Militante revealed that of the $4.84 million, there’s $1.25 million that has already been appropriated for certain CIP projects a few years back but CDA is clueless as to its status, whether these projects are moving or not.

Board member Marcie Tomokane expressed concern on the issue, saying the $1.25 million could have been provided or re-appropriated for other projects if the Legislature would just seriously look into the matter.

Saipan Tribune learned that the $1.25 million worth of CIP projects have been appropriated by the Legislature to each senatorial district in the past five years.

But to date, CDA director Manuel Sablan said that they don’t even have information on the status of these undertakings. Monitoring projects is beyond the statutory obligation of the agency, he added.

“Overtime, legislators change years after years. Isn’t it appropriate for this agency to notify the governor and the Legislature of all $1.25 million outstanding projects over five years ago that are not moving?” asked Tomokane, adding that having projects remain dormant for five years is “very unreasonable.”

Tomokane believes that if a project is found not moving in three years, for instance, this could be subjected to re-appropriation by the Legislature, which may give the idle funds to other projects in the same senatorial district.

She added that laws specific to appropriation should also mandate some timelines as to when certain projects are anticipated to be completed.

According to director Sablan, CDA had repeatedly conveyed the agency’s concern to the Legislature and the administration about these idle CIP funds. However, nothing solid has come out from these conversations, he said.

As a procedure, he said CDA’s task is limited only to the disbursement of funds, which is done after project contracts are routed and certified. Monitoring whether these projects actually started or moved, he said, is unknown to CDA.

“We don’t control the expenditure of these funds. Many of these projects involved contracts and when bidded out, the project is considered closed [in our books],” explained Sablan.

CDA board chair Diego Songao instructed the management yesterday to communicate once more with the Executive Branch and Legislature about these idle government funds.

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