Tick-tock, tick-tock on new budget

Posted on Apr 10 2006

The Fitial administration has less than three weeks to come up with a budget proposal for the next fiscal year.

The legal deadline for the administration to submit an FY2007 budget to the Legislature is May 1, 2006. Budget proposals are normally due on April 1, but new administrations are given one extra month to prepare.

“The administration will be submitting a budget shortly, as required by law,” press secretary Charles P. Reyes Jr. said yesterday.

He said the administration is now consulting with the Legislature, through the joint financial management committee, with regard to the FY2007 budget.

The administration, along with the presiding officers of the Legislature, formed the committee in January 2006 to immediately develop a budget for FY2006 and to create a budget for FY2007.

Finance Secretary Eloy S. Inos, acting Commerce Secretary James Santos, and the governor’s special assistant for management and budget Antonio Muna represent the Executive Branch in the committee.

From the 15th Legislature, the representatives are Senate Fiscal Affairs Committee chairman Felix Mendiola and House Ways and Means Committee chairman Crispin Ogo.

Public Law 13-24, which contained the FY2003 budget, is the last budget enacted for the CNMI government.

Due to the lack of an updated budget, the government has been following the $213-million government spending level set by P.L. 13-24.

However, exercising the unrestricted reprogramming power given to him by the Legislature, Gov. Benigno R. Fitial has adjusted the FY2006 budget to reflect a revised revenue estimate of $198.5 million.

On top of the budget cuts resulting from the reduced revenue estimate, government agencies will face a prorated decrease in funding to ensure that the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. has the $24.4 million needed for fuel purchases for the remainder of the fiscal year.

FY2006 ends on Sept. 30, 2006.

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