Funding requests exceed govt budget by $38M
It will be a juggling act for the House Committee on Ways and Means as it sets a series of hearings on the proposed $145.8-million government budget.
According to Rep. Antonio P. Sablan (Ind-Saipan), he has started reviewing the detailed budget proposal, as well as proposed appropriations from each of the government agencies.
The budget requests of government departments and their respective activities exceeded the $145.8-million proposed budget by $38.7 million, Sablan said.
This means not all government departments will get the exact budget that they requested.
Sablan said his committee will have to sit down with the departments and find out how to “help” these departments with their budget requests.
Like the previous years, he said it will be a “challenge” to allocate the available resources, as the departments’ budget requests contain budget for personnel and other “activities.”
“We would have to find out which positions are critical and which are not,” he said, adding that departments will also need to identify priorities.
“We will also try to look for items that are not necessary and which are not, and from there, maybe make the necessary adjustments on a department’s budget request,” he said.
The lawmaker said he will start scheduling the hearings “tentatively” next week, or after a scheduled House session on Rota on April 9.
Sablan said there will be no discussions on the budget, except to acknowledge that Gov. Eloy S. Inos has indeed submitted the budget proposal on April 1, as mandated by the Constitution.
He stressed that once the budget is finalized, the government is bound to “work” with it.
Inos submitted a budget proposal of $145.8 million to the Legislature on Wednesday last week to beat the April 1 deadline.
The budget represents an increase of $11.5 million, or 8.55 percent, from the budget of the previous fiscal year.
The budget was derived from the gross budgetary resources reported by the Secretary of Finance for fiscal year 2016 at $183.55 million.
House Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan) earlier said $145.8 million is “better than $134 million.”