The Department of Public Lands, as per its constitutional mandate, remitted $3 million to the Marianas Public Land Trust yesterday, representing money collected from public land leases.
The transfer should be welcome news to the CNMI government; it paves the way for the creation of a line of credit to be created between the CNMI government and MPLT. Gov. Ralph DLG Torres earlier asked MPLT to extend a line of credit for the CNMI Finance Department.
Acting DPL Secretary Marianne C. Teregeyo, along with Finance Division director Evelyn Sablan and acting Real Estate Division director Richard Villagomez met with MPLT chair Martin B. Ada and board financial consultant Bruce MacMillan yesterday to transfer the funds.
DPL has now transferred to MPLT a total of $15.22 million in revenue from public land leases since September 2007.
Prior to yesterday’s remittance, DPL transferred $1.5 million to MPLT in September last year.
DPL is mandated by the CNMI Constitution to manage public lands and turn over lease revenue from public lands to MPLT, which then invests those funds. DPL is only allowed to retain the amount it needs to manage public lands.
Torres earlier asked MPLT for a $15-million line of credit for the CNMI government to meet is bond obligations and required pension payments. That request is embodied in House Bill 21-44, which House Speaker B.J. Attao (R-Saipan) had already introduced in the CNMI House of Representatives, authorizes the creation of the line of credit. That bill remains pending in the House.
H.B. 21-44 pledges the amount that MPLT would give to the Commonwealth’s general fund as security for MPLT’s issuance of the line of credit.
Attao’s H.B. 21-44 would authorize MPLT to withhold a net annual distributable interest income that would begin in fiscal year 2020.