FOR FISCAL YEAR 2016-2017
The administration of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres is expecting an additional $39 million will be pumped into the government’s coffers at the end of this fiscal year. The amount represents gross gaming tax from the nearly one-year operation of Best Sunshine International, Ltd.’s live training facility.
Best Sunshine rented a portion of T Galleria where they have been operating a mini casino since July last year but formally opened in November. Best Sunshine Live, which has 45 gaming tables, is considered Imperial Pacific CNMI’s first step to its $7-billion integrated resort project on Saipan.
Torres provided the recent accounting of the gross gaming tax revenue collected from BSI’s operations to House Speaker Rafael S. Demapan (R-Saipan). He said that the projected amount of $39 million alone is a huge boost to the CNMI’s economy.
“The total projected amount of $39 million in gross gaming tax for the remainder of the years speaks volumes about our economic resurgence and the viability of the CNMI’s tourism industry as we expand to new tourism products,” said Torres.
“With deference to your constitutional authority to appropriate this funding, I respectfully wish to offer you my recommendation for its use in a manner in which I believe has the potential to improve the quality of life for our people and strengthen my ability to provide quality public service to our islands,” Torres added.
He then gave five core areas—land compensation payments, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., LEAC (levelized energy adjustment clause) subsidies for CNMI ratepayers, CNMI Medical Referral, and the Public School System—where he wants the money reserved in accordance with Public Law 18-56 or the Exclusive Gaming License Act.
Torres’ recommendations are based in order of priority. “I request that these appropriations be made as funding becomes available in the order of priority, which I believe would be in the best interest of the Commonwealth.”
CHCC is allocated $14 million with $1 million directed to the Community Guidance Center’s ongoing work of building a network of treatment programs against the “widespread and damaging effects of substance abuse.”
Another $2 million is for the establishment of the Health Information Exchange that would enable healthcare professionals and patients “to appropriately access and securely share a patient’s vital medical information electronically.”
Torres then requested Demapan to appropriate $10,750,000 in paying CHCC’s past dues and outstanding balance to the Commonwealth Utilities Corp., while the remaining $250,000 is reserved for telecommunications services.
Land compensation will get $15 million from the outstanding balance of government obligations, PSS gets $1 million to provide support and resources for each child, the CNMI’s Medical Referral program will be receiving $4 million to supplement the office with technical support and provide the critical service to the people, while $5 million is for the LEAC subsidy that would provide disposable income among families and residents.