‘CHCC debt now over $32M’


With its utilities billing now reaching over $32 million in total, the Commonwealth Health Care Corp. was urged to pay the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. at least $400,000 a month.

CUC executive director Gary P. Camacho said in an interview Friday said they did send CHCC chief executive officer Esther Muña a letter that basically tells her to pay CHCC’s bill. Camacho said he is asking only for the current monthly bill, and that they will deal with the arrears in other ways.

“We will work some programs out. But right now, pay your monthly bill,” he said.

Camacho said Muña did inform him that she was going to respond to his letter but, as far as he know, CUC has yet to receive a reply.

“We’ve go to work something out. We’ve got to figure something out,” said Camacho, adding that CHCC’s debt is affecting CUC’s ability to purchase materials for its power plants and for the water and wastewater programs.

Inevitably, it’s going to affect CHCC’s operations, Camacho said, so Muña needs to try to find some ways to be able to pay their bill.

Right now, Camacho said, he is just looking for her to pay the monthly bill. “We can deal with the arrears a little later. But right now, she just needs to pay her bill as any customer required to pay their bill,” he said.

Camacho said he understands Muña’s situation, that it is challenging to everybody, but CHCC has got to show more effort in paying the bill. He said he is willing to work with Muña, who just needs to inform him how it is going to happen.

“We are recommending ways to save water. Don’t forget: This is not only power but this is power and water,” he said.

Camacho said CUC has yet to give Muña a notice of disconnection because he does not want to jeopardize operations that deal with critical facilities in the hospital.

“I respect that. But, by the same token, she also has to understand that CUC is a critical facility. We all know that, after a disaster, we see the issues,” he added.

Camacho pointed out that CUC does everything its can to ensure that CHCC has power. Muña has to do her part, too, like everybody else, in putting in her fair share and paying her bill, he said.

He said Muna did state that she is relying on a program that might transfer funds this month. “So, I am hopeful that we can communicate soon,” Camacho added.

Last Oct. 2, Muña paid CUC $200,000 when Camacho discussed CHCC’s delinquent account with her.

Camacho said Muña also stated in that meeting that she recognizes the debt problem and explained the challenges that CHCC is currently dealing with.

He said Muña disclosed that she was working on a resolution to pay the current monthly billings.

Last May, CUC board vice chair Weston Deleon Guerrero said CUC should take CHCC to court to compel it to pay its debt.

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 ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com
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