The two recent disasters that gripped the CNMI are expected to affect the government’s projected budget, but the impact in dollar terms has yet to be determined.
In early July, a breakage in a submarine cable effectively disconnected Saipan from the rest of the world, affecting mobile communications and Internet infrastructure throughout the island.
Local businesses relying heavily on online payments and ordering suffered, as well as numerous companies that use the Internet for their operations.
A state of significant disaster was eventually declared for Saipan.
On Aug. 2, Typhoon Soudelor slammed into Saipan as a “super typhoon,” leaving widespread damage. President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency for the CNMI on Aug. 6.
Until today, a month after Soudelor, recovery efforts and relief operations continue.
House Speaker Joseph P. Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan) said the CNMI Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Finance will be reviewing the cash flow for the government in the aftermath of the disaster.
A budget of $145 million is being proposed for the CNMI government for fiscal year 2016. It is yet to be ratified by the Legislature.
Most lawmakers are saying that the disaster will indeed impact the budget projection.
In light of this impact, Deleon Guerrero said Gov. Eloy S. Inos has “tools” to prevent “over-expenditure.”
Deleon Guerrero said if the budget projections do not meet the $145 million by a certain percentage by the end of September, the governor has the authority to cut down allotments for the CNMI departments.
“If it exceeds or does not meet the projections by 3 percent, the governor can use this authority,” he said.
Deleon Guerrero said the financial impacts have yet to be determined because information such as how many businesses have been affected, for how long, and at what costs, remain unknown.
“We do not know yet. But there are protection built in to our law,” he said. “That is how you manage the money coming in.”