Due to the lack of funds brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Marianas Visitors Authority proposed a revised spending plan for fiscal year 2021 that drastically cuts its annual budget.
At MVA’s board meeting last Sept. 16, managing director Priscilla Iakopo proposed a 61% decrease for FY 2021. She added that the impact of the Department of Housing and Urban Development collections also impacted their decision to revise their budget from $9.4 million to $3.5 million.
In addition to its proposal of cutting down its budget, MVA has also used its reserved funds for payroll.
As of Sept. 11, Iakopo stated that at the end of the fiscal year 2020, the reserve balance will be at $429,000. Additionally, MVA has received $250,000 in hotel occupancy tax collections from the central government last Sept. 11.
As of this year, Iakopo disclosed that MVA has recovered a total of $5.1 million from the Department of Finance, but that’s only for fiscal year 2019. She said MVA has yet to collect $1 million. Moreover, the central government owes MVA $6.6 collected in hotel occupancy tax collections for the fiscal year 2020.
According to Iakopo, MVA has been cutting down to the greatest degree, adding that the bulk of cuts come from offshore companies which tallied up to a total of $230,000. As for operations and monthly reoccurring funds from their offshore summed up to $31,000.
Iakopo proposed to add a section in the rights of membership, which will provide relief for their members and its legal counsel has allowed for the change. It was proposed that “The board of directors may approve the temporary adjustment waiver or deferment in the membership fees in order to offer relief to its members during a natural disaster pandemic crisis or any other emergencies that cause significant economic impact to the CNMI provided that such relief does not exceed a period of one year. This adjustment may be exercised upon the governor’s issuance of a state of emergency.”