MVA predicts a $1.4M budget shortfall

With Super Typhoon Yutu directly hitting the CNMI’s tourism industry, the Marianas Visitors Authority predicts a $1.4-million budget shortfall in fiscal year 2019, MVA managing director Christopher Concepcion said yesterday.

He blames a projected decrease in hotel occupancy tax collections on flight cancellations and the lack of tourists one month after Yutu’s devastation.

The Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport shut down after Yutu hit Saipan and Tinian last Oct. 24 and 25. The first international flight to Saipan only resumed last Nov. 22 with Hong Kong Express.

With the budget shortfall, Concepcion said MVA has to cut programs and some other items that they were planning to do because they cannot afford to them now.

“So we are going to reduce our budget,” he said at yesterday’s MVA board meeting.

The programs and services that will be affected by the cuts are ad hoc promotion, professional services, advertising Saipan and Rota, tour guide certification, office rental, computer systems, assets, U.S./Guam promotion, gold campaign support, anniversary promotion, destination enhancement building fund, and support to municipalities.

Concepcion said the proposed adjustment to the fiscal year 2019 budget will be a cut of $740,717.

The board approved the proposed budget cut.

Concepcion later said in an interview that the biggest chunk of the adjustment is the ad hoc promotion committees in the amount of $520,000.

He said the MVA board established the ad hoc committees many years ago. He said MVA is providing little funding to these ad hoc committees in Japan, China, and Korea.

“That is the big chunk that we are going to be cutting for this fiscal year, $520,000. And the rest is really small,” Concepcion said.

He said for the first quarter they project $170,000 in collection, but that they need a million dollars every month to be able to pay their bills.

“So it is totally inadequate for us to be able to do our work,” he said.

Concepcion said they are trying to live within their means so they looked at their budget internally.

“But we definitely feel that we are going to need the support of the Legislature in case we need additional funding for marketing,” he added.

MVA’s projected revenue for fiscal year 2019 was $15.8 million.

After the $740,000 reduction in the budget, available funding for MVA operations, after provisions for Department of Finance reduction, is $14.6 million.

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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