Atalig : Next local stimulus not $1,000 as requested


Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig said yesterday that giving $1,000 for each CNMI resident in another local stimulus using American Rescue Plan Act funding would translate to $50 million to $53 million and the administration cannot afford that amount at the moment because of the expenses incurred due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases.

Atalig stated, though, that he and Gov. Ralph DLG Torres are committed to helping the community and are doing their best to help people so there may be another local stimulus but not as much as what was requested. “We should have a better answer by early part of May. And more information will be forthcoming,” he said.

Atalig said they’re basically reviewing all of their ARPA spending. He said they had a spending plan for helping households, which they accomplished through the initial local $500 stimulus, in which $26 million went into the community. He said they also did the utility stimulus to help households with $500 credit on utilities.


Atalig said he understands that the House of Representatives had passed a resolution that request the administration to implement another stimulus—whether it’s cash stimulus or fuel or gas voucher stimulus.

He said that giving additional stimulus was not an initial part of the ARPA spending plan.

Atalig said they are still reviewing all the expenses that they had, especially when the CNMI had a spike in COVID-19 numbers.

“We spent a lot of money mitigating that, with more resources at the hospital, on testing sites, and so we have to factor those expenses that we did to get through that spike period we had,” he said.

He said, however, he is not saying that there won’t be any additional local stimulus. “I’m just saying I am not sure until probably the end of the month when my team analyzes our review of the ARPA,” he said.

Atalig said they have to make sure they have enough money for next fiscal year to take care of government employees’ 20% salary .

He said they submitted a budget to the Legislature last Friday but it was only 80% of the salary for government employees and it’s coming from the general fund.
“We still need to cover the additional 20% to keep employees, keep government employees employed,” he said.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at
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