$7M for Guma Hustisia ‘boggles my mind’


Although the House in their session last Friday passed spending measures addressing $7 million in mold remediation and brand new air-conditioning units for the Judiciary’s Guma Hustisia, a lawmaker still skeptical about the large amount allocated for the project.

Rep. Edwin K. Propst (Ind-Saipan) said he supports appropriating funding for brand new air-conditioning units as well as the mold remediation for the Guma Hustisia but he still has doubts about the $7 million amount.

The House passed last Friday with a vote of 19-1 Rep. Angel A. Demapan’s (R-Saipan) House Bill 20-165, which appropriates $7 million to the Judiciary and $1.3 million to the private telecommunications company, Docomo Pacific.

Propst is concerned about the $7 million the Judiciary is asking for the project, saying it “seems extremely high” when other private businesses have installed new air-conditioning systems in businesses that are “much larger and have far more square footage.”

“There are two businesses on Saipan that spent well under $1 million for new, energy-efficient air-conditioning systems and they are almost double the square footage of Guma Hustisia,” said Propst.

In a previous interview with Demapan, he said the amount is based on a cost breakdown provided by an engineering firm that won the bidding when the Judiciary solicited proposal to do the assessment in late 2017.

“We are also [looking at] the cost breakdown provided by the Judiciary on what it would take to [complete] the project while keeping the Judiciary open in other locations,” he said.

“…To the question of whether the $7 million was exorbitant—that is something we will finally see when the court is able to address the mold remediation and air-conditioning units. That is why, as the author of this bill, I made sure that the expenditure authority of the $7 million rests with the secretary of Finance,” Demapan added.

Demapan further stated that the Finance secretary could make sure the funds would be used for the stated purposes only.

“I feel that is a safety net we were able to include in the provision instead of handing over the money outright,” said Demapan.

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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