The Department of Finance claimed yesterday that the Rota Legislative Delegation owes the CNMI government over $564,000.
In a rundown of the delegation’s debt that Saipan Tribune obtained yesterday, it says the delegation owes the CNMI government $564,032 from the Casino Annual License Fees Account.
This account supposedly gets $2 million each year when the casino licensee renews its license, paying the CNMI government $15 million. Rep. Ed Propst (Ind-Saipan) told Saipan Tribune late last night that the lone casino licensee, Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC, has yet to pay its license, which was due yesterday.
Saipan Tribune reached out to Commonwealth Casino Commission executive director Edward Deleon Guerrero and Finance Secretary David Atalig for confirmation yesterday, but they have yet to respond as of press time.
In response to a Saipan Tribune request for comments on the delegation’s debt, delegation chair Sen. Paul Manglona (Ind-Rota) noted that $400,000 of the owed amount, according to the Legislature’s fiscal analyst, went to the MV Luta shipping company.
The delegation paid Luta Mermaid LLC $400,000 “to finance fuel, lubrication, and the maiden voyage costs from Louisiana to Rota,” according to Legislative Delegation Resolution 19-3, the legislation that authorized the delegation’s payment to the company.
“…Now that there is a settlement agreement for MV Luta’s former owners to pay back the government, this can offset this owed amount,” Manglona told Saipan Tribune.
“[The] Department of Finance forgot to incorporate [the $400,000] until recently, so that is why the records now show that we owe [$564,032],” he added.
The rundown was a result of Sen. Teresita Santos’ (Ind-Rota) letter to the Finance secretary, indicating that they need this information because of a scheduled delegation meeting this Thursday, Aug. 15, in Sinapalo, Rota.
“…Having received a copy of the secretary’s letter to the Rota delegation, which indicates a deficit in the amount of $564,032, and in as much as the delegation would like to address pending municipality and department requests, patients monthly allowance, interisland patient and escort stipends, scholarships, etc., and the lack of any financial resources as we speak, the only funding that may be available for appropriation is from the casino license fee, which, pursuant to a public law, $2 million shall be allotted to the first and second senatorial districts on a per annum basis,” Santos told Saipan Tribune.
That basically meant that Rota and Tinian are supposed to get $2 million each as their share of the $15 million that IPI is supposed to pay each year for its casino license.
“Although, we anticipate to receive the $2 million from the casino license fee on a per annum basis, the delegation can only appropriate the same after receiving fund certification from the secretary of Finance that it is available for appropriation,” Santos said in her statement.