The CNMI government will now be required to submit an annual “citizen-centric report” of its activities to its constituents.
The law that now requires this, Public Law 20-83, was enacted last week after Gov. Ralph DLG Torres signed House Bill 20-155 House Draft 1 into law.
House vice speaker Janet U. Maratita (R-Saipan) introduced H.B. 20-155; it was co-sponsored by Rep. Alice S. Igitol (R-Saipan), which would require all government entities to submit an annual report of its operational activities.
“The intent of a citizen-centric report is to provide transparency and access for residents to an open government,” said Torres in separate letters to legislative leaders. “This includes access to financial management information, prioritization of public services, and the opportunity for citizens to provide feedback.”
P.L .20-83 said the people of the Commonwealth look to the Legislature to provide transparency and access to government matters that impact their quality of life. “That is why stability, transparency, efficiency, and continuity in the governance systems that our citizens are most immediately concerned with, is so necessary,” states P.L. 20-83. “That is why our priority here at the Legislature is to place our citizens at the center of our government. The concept that good governance relies on good citizenry is important, since our democracy is based on a symbiotic relationship which provides a balance that can only be achieved by working together.”
Maratita states in the new law that a government that answers and is accountable to the citizenry is a basic foundation of every democracy—“having a responsibility to provide information regarding government operations, most notably in regards to how taxpayer dollars are spent.”
“Governments should provide such information in an easily understandable and accessible manner. Financial reports are often too lengthy and too technical for the average person to understand,” the new law’s findings state.
P.L. 20-83 states that citizens are entitled to transparent information. “We believe that there is an obligation to provide such information.”
“Unfortunately, governments often fail to meet their reporting needs, and the poor performance has created a problem of trust between citizens and their government. Governments need new and innovative means of communicating to overcome these challenges,” the findings state.
It is the Legislature’s intention to ensure that the government must be ready to provide basic information that would be easily understandable by the citizens of the Commonwealth.