Committee starts review of Torres’ recommendations




The House Ways and Means Committee is starting its review of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ recommendations for the allocation of the Saipan casino gross revenue tax collection.

With a total of over $38.5 million up for appropriation, only $16.55 million would be appropriated due to a $22-million earmark provision in recently enacted Public Law 20-10.

The $22 million would be held in a special account to pay for this year’s retiree pension bonuses and 25 percent of pensions that were withheld from government retirees.

Of the $16.55 million that is up for allocation, Torres recommends that $2 million of that go to the Public School System.

Rep. Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in an interview with Saipan Tribune that Torres’ communication is merely a recommendation of how the money should be divided and his committee need not follow Torres’ recommendations word for word.

“We owe PSS some $9 million from…previous appropriations we’ve enacted, so I’d like to see that we give that particular amount to PSS and then work on an additional $3 million to help support some of the unfunded obligations they are requesting for,” said Demapan.

Previous appropriations from the House—House Bill 20-108 that addressed salaries owed government employees that got stuck at Step 12; House Bill 20-103 that addressed the land compensation debts of the CNMI government; and House Bill 20-116 that addressed the balances the CNMI government owed the settlement fund for fiscal year 2014 and fiscal year 2015—appropriated over $36.6 million altogether.

The CNMI Constitution provides that PSS is entitled to 25 percent of “general revenues,” which include all appropriations allocated by the House of Representatives.

A quarter of $36.6 million is a little over $9 million—the amount Demapan infers is owed PSS.

“At this time, I’m working on reconfiguring the proposed distribution to see how best we can accommodate PSS’ request in the amount of $12 million,” said Demapan.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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