CUC, CHCC agree on payment deal

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Posted on Sep 15 2020

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The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. have come to terms on a payment plan that will allow CHCC to continue operating with no power disruption and CUC will start collecting from CHCC over $34 million in arrears.

Both the CHCC board of trustees and CUC board of directors met with Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Attorney General Edward Manibusan last Sept. 10 to hammer out the agreement.

CHCC chief executive officer Esther Muña confirmed that the intent of the payment agreement is to ensure that the Commonwealth Health Center won’t be disconnected for six hours daily.

Under the new agreement, the central government will help CHCC pay CUC $219,000 before the 8th of each month. The central government will fork out $150,000; CHCC will foot the remaining $69,000.

“While it is unusual for the sole hospital to be subjected to disconnection and while the agreement does not remove the possibility of disconnections completely, the negotiations concluded have led to assurances of avoiding this unfortunate act, especially during a pandemic,” CHCC stated in a later statement.

Under the terms of the agreement, CUC reduced CHCC’s monthly obligation from $250,000 a month to $219,000 a month, which will be going toward CHCC’s current monthly bills. Additionally, the payment in September will cover the monthly bill for August.

Furthermore, the $219,000 payment will hold unless CHCC’s power consumption increases or there is a rate increase in the fuel adjustment clause. Should there be a decrease in FAC, CHCC will be able to pay less than $69,000, but no less than $60,000.

According to the agreement that was signed by Torres, Muña, CUC executive director Gary Camacho, Manibusan, and Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig, all parties agreed to “faithfully participate” in future negotiations that will be held within a reasonable time from the moment they signed the agreement and will discuss arrear amount and a possible amendment to the arrear amount.

Torres also backed the agreement, assuring that more talks about the money that’s owed, including the late fees and penalties, will be up for negotiation.

CUC cut power to the hospital last Sept. 8, 2020, for six hours a day. CHCC, which runs the hospital, was informed that it would be disconnected again last Sept. 9 but this was cancelled right before noon. However, CHCC did cancel some surgeries prior to the cancellation of the disconnection.

Justine Nauta
Justine Nauta is Saipan Tribune's community and health reporter and has covered a wide range of news beats, including the Northern Marianas College and Commonwealth Health Care Corp. She's currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation and Human Services at NMC.

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