More funding for the Marianas amidst COVID-19 pandemic

Posted on Apr 24 2020

More funding is coming into the CNMI, on top of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance guaranteed for furloughed government employees, loans available for small local businesses through the U.S. Small Business Administration, and stimulus checks underway for eligible, legal residents.

The CNMI is set to receive $4 million in technical assistance from the Office of Insular Affairs, in response to a request made by Gov. Ralph DLG Torres to Assistant Secretary of Insular and International Affairs Douglas W. Domenech for additional assistance for ongoing first responder efforts.

The Office of Insular Affairs is awarding the Commonwealth $4,042,585 from the CARES Act to prepare, prevent, and respond to COVID-19.

“Our main priority since the beginning of this pandemic has been to stop the spread of this virus on our islands. …This additional funding will allow us to further our efforts to contain this virus and keep our people safe,” Torres said.

The CNMI will also be receiving $22 million in airport aid from the Federal Aviation Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation to help in the Commonwealth response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Part of the $10-billion emergency funding allocated for airports in the United States, under the CARES Act Airport Grant Program, the fund, according to U.S. Transportation secretary Elaine L. Chao, is intended to help fund the continued operations of the nation’s airports during the pandemic, and to save workers’ jobs.

Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) said that the relief funding, $22,759,818 for airports in the Northern Marianas, are to be used toward the prevention, preparation, and response to the impacts of COVID-19.

Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport is awarded $20,532,901; Tinian International Airport is to receive $1,159,085; Benjamin Taisacan Manglona International Airport will be awarded $1,047,832; and Pagan Airstrip is to get $20,000.

“The CARES Act funding will be available as soon as the Commonwealth Ports Authority executes a grant agreement with the FAA. Money may be used for any existing lawful use of airport revenue, including operating expenses, and requires no local match,” Sablan added.

Further, $3,353,447 Child Care and Development Block Grant has also been awarded to help provide for child care in the CNMI during the pandemic.

According to Sablan, the Commonwealth is required to use the money for direct payments to child care providers to help them maintain operations to serve children of healthcare sector employees, emergency responders, sanitation workers, and other essential personnel.

The grant can also be used to support low-income families who rely on child care subsidies and to help temporarily closed providers get ready to reopen.

To help the library expand its services during the pandemic, Joeten-Kiyu Public Library was also awarded $4,657 by the Institute of Museum and Library services. $242,700 was also obligated to the Northern Marianas Humanities Council by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Iva Maurin | Correspondent
Iva Maurin is a communications specialist with environment and community outreach experience in the Philippines and in California. She has a background in graphic arts and is the Saipan Tribune’s community and environment reporter. Contact her at
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