NMI 2018 budget up 6 percent


The CNMI government has proposed a budget of $145 million for fiscal year 2018—an increase of more than $10 million from last year.

The actual total amount of the budget for fiscal year 2018 is $237 million but the amount the CNMI government could use for general appropriation is $145 million after adjusting for debt service appropriations, earmarked funds, and other legal obligations.

It also sets aside 24 percent—$56,030,504—to the Settlement Fund for the minimum annual payment sufficient to pay the 75 percent class members full benefits.

Finance Secretary Larrisa Larson gave a report of gross budgetary resources of $237 million for fiscal year 2018. The amount jumped by more than $33 million from last year’s.

“In summary, after the application of all adjustments, this budget represents an estimated increase of $8 [million] or 6 percent from the previous fiscal year. This is a result of businesses showing a positive impact in our economy, triggering an increase in our tax collections across the board,” said Gov. Ralph DLG Torres in his letter to the Legislature on Friday.

He cited that the aggressive marketing campaign done by the Marianas Visitors Authority contributed heavily to the CNMI’s economy. “[We] encourage MVA to continue promoting the CNMI not only in our source market countries but in new [ones] as well.”

“While we welcome and capitalize the gaming industry, we [also] welcome new ideas to help MVA promote the CNMI to come ‘experience the friendly Marianas.’”

Torres also cited the need to address the challenges the CNMI is facing at the airport. “What is considerably important is the need to address our pressing challenges from the entry of our visitors, to safeguarding our borders, and expanding and improving our airport facilities.”

“We remain hopeful the visa waiver program will continue, the measure to increase our contract workers’ cap to 15,000 will be approved by Congress, and extension will be granted to allow the CWs to continue to support our workforce needs beyond 2019.”

Torres said the recommendations they made on the budget package encompass several approaches of a balanced proposal. “In our initial approach, we examined past and current activities to ensure minimal allocation for the delivery of basic public services.”

“Second, we kept all vacancies for those critical and essential programs. Third, we reevaluated the results for each of the departments, and activities and allocated additional funding to the most critical and essential programs.”

The House Committee on Ways and Means, chaired by Rep. Angel Demapan (R-Saipan), would review Torres’ budget proposal, with Senate Fiscal Affairs head Sen. Jude Hofschneider (R-Tinian) leading the budget hearing for all departments, agencies, and divisions.

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.

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