Fitial yet to deliver 2011 SOCA

Posted on Dec 09 2011

Barely three weeks to go before the end of the year, Gov. Benigno R. Fitial has yet to either deliver his 2011 State of the Commonwealth Address or submit a written annual report to the Legislature as the Constitution requires.

Lt. Gov. Eloy S. Inos said as of yesterday, the Legislature had yet to request the governor to deliver a SOCA, but said the administration will comply with the constitutional requirement of submitting an annual written report to lawmakers before the end of the year.

“It’s the Legislature that asks for that, by joint resolution. We haven’t received any,” Inos said in an interview during Bridge Capital LLC’s donation ceremony held in the governor’s conference room on Capital Hill yesterday morning.

House Speaker Eli Cabrera (R-Saipan) said the leadership has yet to decide whether to ask for a SOCA or just wait for a written annual report from the administration.

Senate President Paul Manglona (Ind-Rota) separately said he will bring this up with senators on Monday.

For House minority leader Joseph Deleon Guerrero (R-Saipan), the governor should be made to deliver an address because he “has the responsibility to inform the people about the current state of the CNMI.”

During Fitial’s first term as governor, he was always asked by the Legislature to deliver a SOCA in April or May of each year.

The last joint session of the Legislature to receive Fitial’s SOCA was on May 27, 2009.

Last year, the House of Representatives didn’t act on a Senate joint resolution to have the governor’s SOCA on Capital Hill.

As a result, the governor only submitted a written report dated Dec. 30, 2010 that summed up the present state of the CNMI: “Undoubtedly, the state of our Commonwealth is in severe disarray.”

He said Fiscal Year 2010 ended with a deficit of $18.6 million and that the projected shortfall for the first quarter of FY 2011 is some $6 million.

Article III Section 9 (b) of the CNMI Constitution requires the governor to report “at least annually to the Legislature regarding the affairs of the Commonwealth and new measures that are necessary or desirable.”

It also says the report “shall include a comprehensive annual financial report prepared in accordance with generally accepted governmental accounting principles.”

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