Finance remits $1.3M to MVA

MVA continues 72-hour austerity measure

The Department of Finance remitted to the Marianas Visitors Authority yesterday $500,000 in hotel occupancy tax collection, according MVA managing director Priscilla M. Iakopo.

Iakopo told Saipan Tribune that Finance also remitted to MVA $400,000 in hotel occupancy tax last July 9 and another $480,000 last July 30.

She said the $880,000 total remittance in July covers the January 2019 hotel occupancy tax only.

The $500,000 remittance, on the other hand, covers the remaining January 2019 hotel occupancy tax and partial of February 2019.

She said that, as of June, Finance still owes MVA $4.7 million in hotel occupancy tax.

With respect to MVA’s offshore offices, Iakopo said they will pay a total of $520,000, which are the 90-days-and-over in payables.

“Once that is paid, we will have a balance of approximately $700,000” covering the May and June 2019 invoices, she said.

MVA has not received the July invoices in full.

Iakopo, on the other hand, said the MVA board has approved retaining the austerity measures for MVA personnel at 72 hours.

“The board agreed to use the ‘building fund’—approximately $260,000—to pay remaining 90-days-and-over payables,” she said.

Saipan Tribune learned that the “building fund” is a funding source MVA has been putting aside to build its own permanent building.

The lease of the MVA building in San Jose expires in two years.

Early last month, Rep. Joseph “Lee Pan” T. Guerrero (R-Saipan) urged Finance to transmit the $5.1 million in hotel occupancy tax collection that is owed MVA, saying Finance is technically violating the law by failing to remit the fund.

Guerrero, who chairs the House Committee on Commerce and Tourism, said MVA is currently in the 90-day aging of non-payment to its offshore offices in the amount of $1.9 million.

He said these offshore offices are there to promote the CNMI and MVA cannot pay them because of Finance’s failure to remit what is due the MVA.

Under the law, 80% of the hotel occupancy tax collection goes to MVA, while the 20 percent goes to the Settlement Fund.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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