‘Judiciary loan balance at only $2.1M’

Building loan matured in 2015, expected to be paid in full in 24 to 28 months

As of Sept. 15, 2019, the outstanding balance on the Judicial Building loan stood at $2.1 million, including interest, according to NMI Settlement Fund trustee Joyce C. H. Tang.

The CNMI government has made regular monthly payments to reduce this debt, Tang said, and, assuming that the government continues to make such regular payments, it is possible that the loan will be paid off in full in 24 to 28 months.

In her report to the U.S. District Court for the NMI from the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2017 through the third quarter of fiscal year 2019, Tang said the government paid a total amount of $1,100,545 in fiscal year 2018 and has paid a total amount of $902,875 through Aug. 31, 2019 for fiscal year 2019.

The Judicial building loan matured on March 1, 2015.

Tang will present the report before U.S. District Court for the NMI designated Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood today, Thursday, at 9am.

She said the government has been exploring the possibility of obtaining a $12 million loan with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to pay off the building loan and pay for other needed courthouse renovations.

Public Law 19-67 has already been passed to authorize the government to borrow from the USDA, but an amendment to this law is still under review by Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and the Guam USDA office, Tang said. She said this will allow the government to borrow from commercial lenders, which is a new requirement from USDA loan applicants. The loan has a low interest rate of 2.75%. Payment for the loan will be coming from the fines and fees collected by the Judiciary.

It is not clear yet, however, whether the Judiciary will pursue the same projects as originally planned for the USDA loan because of the extensive damage to Saipan and Tinian wrought by Super Typhoon Yutu in October 2018.

The original plan was that $4.8 million of the $12-million loan would go to the Settlement Fund as lump sum payment for the Judicial Building loan. The remaining amount will go into construction and renovation of judicial facilities in the CNMI, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Public Defender’s Office.

Part of the original plan was to build an additional building on Saipan, at a cost of $1.7 million, on a 9,000-square-meter lot at the Judicial Complex in Susupe for expansion of the Drug Court and the Family Court offices.

On Tinian, the courtroom was to be expanded; the Rota courthouse air-conditioner was supposed to be replaced.

The CNMI government was allowed to secure a loan from the NMI Retirement Fund through a Judicial Building Financing Act of 1994 in order to build the Judicial Complex. Construction began in 1995 and was completed in May 1998. The sources of repayment of this loan came from revenues generated by the Judiciary.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com
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