$10.1M unused fed funds by 2021

Kilili to Torres: Make families eligible for NAP

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reportedly expects the CNMI to accumulate $10.1 million in unused federal funding by the end of 2021 from the 2015 Agricultural Act alone.

In a letter to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) said the USDA projects the CNMI government to still have on hand $10.1 million of the $30.5 million obtained from the 2014 Agricultural Act.

Sablan noted that, in addition to the unused $7.3 million obtained from the annual $12.14-million block grant appropriated by U.S. Congress, the expected carry-over at the end of 2021 would total $20.44 million.

Sablan previously called out the Torres administration after it was discovered that $18.4 million left over in ENAP funding was carried over from fiscal year 2017, while $4.1 million of the $12.1 million NAP block grant was carried over. The ENAP funding for fiscal year 2018 started at $27 million.

“Your administration announced a significant increase in food stamp benefits that went into effect on May 1. By taking this action, you fulfilled one of my long-term goals: SNAP parity. Benefits for families on Saipan are now the same as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits in Guam. And benefits for Rota, the Northern Islands, and Tinian are now higher than SNAP,” he said, adding his gratitude and noting that 2,600 additional households are receiving benefits.

Sablan said that based on his calculation of USDA data, an additional 2,000 more households could receive benefits if all the Agricultural Act money is used up.

However, over 4,000 more beneficiary households are needed in order to include the CNMI in the SNAP nationwide program, Sablan said, citing a 2016 report assessing the feasibility of implementing SNAP in the CNMI.

“That remains my goal: to have every family in the Marianas that would qualify under SNAP income guidelines eligible to receive SNAP level benefits—either by including the Marianas in the SNAP or by securing sufficient annual funding to give the Marianas parity,” he said.

“I have made federal funding available. I am working to get more. I urge you to use this money—now—to help our economy and to help more families put food on the table.”

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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