Atalig says $80M ARPA money already spent last fiscal year


Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig said Thursday the CNMI government has accumulated over $80 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds last fiscal year that were spent mainly for “provisions of government.”

In response to an inquiry about ARPA funds during a radio press briefing, Atalig said the $80 million is just off the top of his head but they will release to the media the exact figures as soon as their staff prepares everything.

He said the “provisions of government” refers to Section 603C of ARPA, which allows the government to recover and get assistance through ARPA for lost revenues.

“And that’s identified by saying where we’re at in terms of our revenues compared to pre-pandemic budget level,” he said.

Atalig said they expended close to $80 million last fiscal year in their ARPA mainly to bring back over 160 people that were furloughed and putting their salaries 100% on that funding.

He said they also lifted austerity when they got the ARPA funding and that allowed the government employees to get 100% of their salary in terms of hours.

He said 20% of every government employee’s salary is covered by ARPA until they get through this COVID-19 pandemic or until ARPA funding allows them.

“I will be coming out with a report in next couple of weeks with more details,” he said.

The CNMI government received in May 2021 $481.9 million in ARPA that was allocated to the Commonwealth. The ARPA money provides emergency funding for the ongoing COVID-19 emergency, replenishes lost government revenues during the pandemic, and brings back jobs within the government that were lost during the pandemic.

Atalig earlier stated that ARPA has different sections of funding and that the $481.9 million is the amount that Section 602 provides for the CNMI.

In June 2021, Atalig presented details of how the government plans to spend $512,076,165 million in ARPA funding—considered the largest one-time cash gift the federal government has ever given the CNMI so far.

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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