Mayor’s student exchange program may be axed

The Saipan Mayor’s Office’s annual student exchange programs may be in trouble after a tranche of budget cuts that have to be implemented across the board in the wake of Super Typhoon Yutu.

Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang noted in an interview with Saipan Tribune last week that his office would be getting a large 15-percent cut in its annual budget this fiscal year, prompting the office to start weighing which programs would be axed.

It might include the annual student exchange program with Japan and Korea, he said.

“…As much as we want more [funding], we know how the situation is because of [Super Typhoon Yutu]. …I am sure that, once the economy starts picking up and tourists continue to come in…things will get better,” he said.

Apatang added that his office will continue to work with Gov. Ralph DLG Torres about funding needs.

According to Torres’ annual budget proposal, the Saipan Mayor’s Office will be allotted over $2.6 million in fiscal year 2020.

The office was appropriated $3.5 million in fiscal year 2019; about $453,631 will be cut.

Apatang said he asked for a budget of $3.5 million for fiscal year 2020, which covers expenses for personnel, fuel, vehicle maintenance, and more.

“Everybody got [budget] cuts. We just need to share the burden,” he said.

“Looking at next year, I don’t think that would be possible,” he said, referring to the annual student exchange program. “I believe we need to cut on [expenses].”

“I told them [Saipan Mayor’s Office] we might have to cancel everything next year,” he said. “We don’t know what is going to happen in fiscal year 2021,” he added when asked if he is more hopeful about the next fiscal year.

“I am hopeful that we will continue to provide services to the general public. I am sure the governor is concerned about that, too, and expending any other ways to cut down on expenses so we can drive on,” he said.

Yutu hit Saipan and Tinian in late October 2018.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.
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