Department of Finance Secretary David Atalig yesterday noted that the financial situation of the CNMI is slowly but surely improving, specifically collection-wise.
Atalig in an interview yesterday noted that NMI finances are slowly improving. He further noted that the Office of Management and Budget’s projected budget of over $30 million for the remainder of fiscal year 2019 could possibly be met based on the current collections.
“Our collections have been improving as projected and based on the adjusted budget. I am confident we would hit our projected [budget],” he said. “…We are seeing a little more business activity; numbers are coming back,” he continued, referring to a possibly resurging tourism economy.
Atalig emphasized, however, that the slight economic comeback is “not as good as we expect.”
Citing Marianas Visitors Authority tourist numbers, he noted that there is a “drastic decline” in tourist numbers compared to the same time period last fiscal year.
“I believe looking at the numbers we are doing better,” he noted. “In summer time we are expecting higher rates…of travel. The fourth quarter is generally the time of the year we collect more revenue in higher percentages than other quarters.”
Excise tax, according to the Finance secretary, is doing well with collections trumping last year’s figures within the same time period by a reported $6 million. Atalig did not immediately provide the specific figures.
“…Based on my meeting [last Monday] with the directors, our excise tax collection is $6 million above last year’s number for the same period,” he said.
“Pre-Super Typhoon Yutu we were doing well—commodities are coming in, and so that’s good news. However, we just need to work with our…companies to pay their fair share of Business Gross Revenue Tax,” Atalig continued, adding that what remains is a matter of communication.