Although the CNMI central government owes the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. $6.1 million in past due utility bills, it was current with its payments in fiscal year 2018 and is still making monthly payments to CUC.
CUC acting chief financial officer Corina Magofna clarified this in an interview with the media yesterday, saying that, by stating that the central government is past due for 12 months, that only means that although they are making monthly payments, they’re not paying the full amount.
“When you don’t pay the full amount, it leaves you with a balance. And it is considered as past due,” said Magofna in explaining her financial report about the central government’s past due that she presented during the CUC board meeting last Tuesday.
“In any type of obligation you have…if you don’t pay the full amount, you have a balance and that remains your past due,” she added.
Magofna said part of the 12 months past due is the government’s arrear in the amount of $1.9 million.
“It’s a combination of other unpaid balances. There is an outstanding balance in the account and that’s how we calculated it,” she said, referring to the $6,133,067 past due.
Magofna said the central government’s monthly utility billing is about half a million.
She said one month they were paying $150,000, then next $250,000.
“We’re very grateful because something is better than nothing. But we are also reporting accurately that, although they are making payments, they still have a balance,” she said.
Magofna assured, though, that although the government is showing a past due, it is making payments every month.
CUC executive director Gary P. Camacho, for his part, said yesterday that the central government was current in fiscal year 2018.
Still, there were challenges to fund the restoration efforts due to Typhoon Mangkhut and Super Typhoon Yutu, Camacho said.
Camacho said the restoration efforts impacted the central government’s ability in making payments to CUC.
“However, I want to make it perfectly clear, that there was payment every month of the year, to include during the two storms,” he said.
He assured that the central government has been making an effort to make monthly payments to CUC.
“We really appreciate it,” said Camacho, adding that this has helped CUC pay the Guam Power Authority and many other vendors immediately after the two storms and throughout the latter part of the month and the end of the year.
“How much payment every month? It varies obviously because of the challenges caused by the storms,” he added.
Camacho said the central government made $150,000 payments a month after the two storms.
“The challenge obviously is right after the storms, but I think it made a substantial effort in paying for the utilities,” he said.
The central government also made a payment last month. “They were still able to make payments and we’re very appreciative of that,” he said.
Camacho said there was a variant because of the central government’s upfront support for the restoration and humanitarian efforts.
Camacho said those first weeks and month after Yutu, he would imagine that the government funded CUC.
“So, in all of that, we are still very pleased that we’re receiving payment,” he said.
He said there has been discussions about getting the central government back on track as to payments to get current as soon as possible.
As of last week, the CNMI central government, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., and the Commonwealth Ports Authority owe a total of $51.2 million in utility billings to CUC.
Magofna disclosed at the CUC board meeting last Tuesday that the central government owes $6,133,067, while CHC $27,412,615 and CPA $17,662,237—for a total of $51,207,919 in receivables.
CHCC’s past due is for four years while for CPA is five months.