DOF: 2nd stimulus checks out ASAP


Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig said Thursday that his team is on standby and prepared once the second stimulus bill is enacted into law.

Speaking at a radio news briefing, Atalig said they are communicating with their Internal Revenue Service partners in getting the plan and mechanism in place.

Atalig noted that they had a very successful plan in the first distribution of the stimulus package. “So we’ve some updates in terms of how we’re going to go about releasing the second stimulus should that be approved by President Trump,” he said.

Last week, the U.S. Congress passed a bill that set aside $900 billion to renew mostly unemployment aid. The bill is linked to legislation that will fund government operations to the tune of $1.4 trillion into 2021.

President Donald Trump, however, vetoed the bill and called on lawmakers to increase direct payments for most Americans from $600 to $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for couples. Right now, Congress is still debating whether to resubmit a new bill with the increased stimulus amounts or just override the President’s veto.

Atalig said they understand that there are some issues about the amount in terms of the bill that provides $600 per qualifying adult and also includes $600 for every child.

“So we’re preparing our system. We’re anticipating the [signing] so that we can get these checks processed and out to our taxpayers and to our community,” he said.

The secretary said there is a time lag in terms of how IRS processes stimulus checks in the territories.

“So we will be probably about two weeks behind the IRS schedule. And so I just want the community to be patient with us,” said Atalig, adding that once the funds are transferred to Finance, they will be releasing the money as quickly as possible.

He said they do understand that the community needs this assistance and that they want to make sure that they get it.

In the first batch of stimulus funding, the checks provided up to $1,200 for every eligible individual, $2,400 for joint returns, and $500 for every qualifying child.

Atalig said this second stimulus bill did not include any financial assistance for states and territories. He said, however, there are a lot of different programs that have been extended and included.

Atalig said the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation will be continued until about April 14, 2021.

“And although the amount is not $600 per week—it’s down to $300—it is still a significant amount to help our community,” he said.

Atalig said private companies as well as non-profit organizations will be able to continue and reapply for the Payroll Protection Program so they can avail of those funds and to help their operations and that’s through the Small Business Administration program.

Atalig said that, while the bill did not include any direct assistance to local state and municipalities, they are pleased and happy to know that the public school system and the education sector are included, which was not included in the last CARES Act.

Atalig said that higher education is included in this bill so the Northern Marianas College is expected to get some relief as well.

He said the governor will have his allocation to continue educating the community about COVID-19 and protocols.

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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