The CNMI government owes the Settlement Fund $11.5 million in APGA payment for fiscal year 2016, according to Settlement Fund trustee Joyce C. H. Tang.
APGA stands for Alternative Payment of a Greater Amount.
Tang said the settlement agreement in Betty Johnson’s class action requires the CNMI government to make Alternative Payment of a Greater Amount equal to the difference of 17 percent of the government’s total annual revenue, after deducting the amount of the Minimum Annual Payment paid.
The APGA was among the issues that Tang discussed in a report she filed in the U.S. District Court for the NMI on the Settlement Fund’s investment accounts for fiscal year 2016 through the third quarter of fiscal year 2017.
Tang said that based on the government’s audited financial statements for fiscal years 2014 to 2016, the CNMI paid $5.92 million in APGA in fiscal year 2014 and $1.21 million in fiscal year 2015.
That means there is an outstanding APGA due totaling $11.53 million for fiscal year 2016.
Tang said that Gov. Ralph DLG Torres had committed to working on an appropriation bill to fund the amount.
She said Torres has tentatively accepted the Settlement Fund’s proposed payment schedule.
Under the proposed payment schedule, the government shall make the first payment of $3.46 million on Oct. 17, 2017, and the second payment of $4.04 million on Dec. 31, 2017. The last payment of $4.04 million will be on March 31, 2018.
On benefit payments, for fiscal years 2016 and 2017, the CNMI remitted $15.148 million and $13.515 million, respectively, to the Settlement Fund for the 25 percent benefit payments.
Tang said for fiscal year 2018, the NMI Legislature passed House Bill 20-99, which appropriates the first $22 million of the casino gross revenue tax to the 25 percent benefit payments and a bonus payment to retirees.
Both payments are voluntary payments from the government, she said, and are not required under the settlement agreement.
The Senate and the House passed House Bill 20-99, but the governor has yet to sign this legislation.
Tang requested that the legislation be amended to give priority to MAP that are paid from the casino gross revenue tax.
Tang said Torres has agreed to the amendment as requested.
She assured that the Settlement Fund will continue to assist the government with processing of the 25 percent payments as an accommodation to the government so long as the CNMI continues to pay the MAP in a timely manner, remains current on its APGA payment and other settlement agreement obligations, and all payment received from the government comply with CNMI appropriation laws.