The CNMI government would reportedly remit today the remaining funds owed the Public School System, enabling the government to comply with the 25% mandate of the CNMI Constitution for PSS.
Finance Secretary David Atalig said Thursday afternoon that the central government would soon be in compliance with the constitutional mandate of 25% of revenues for the annual PSS budget with the remittance of the remaining $1.7 million that is scheduled today.
Atalig explained that the central government owes PSS $7.78 million.
He noted that the central government would be paying the Group Health and Life Insurance premiums of PSS, which amounts to $2.9 million, and Chapters 2 and 7 taxes for the system, which totals $2.15 million.
“We came about with all the obligations PSS owes that the central government will absorb in offsetting their debt for Chapter 2, Chapter 7, taxes, FICA, GHLI premiums,” Atalig explained, adding that PSS was behind on these payments for a number of pay periods.
“…I am going to pay for their pay periods that they haven’t paid yet to offset for the amounts that [the central government] owes,” he added.
Atalig said his office already remitted $1 million to the state education agency last Wednesday, bringing the balance further to only $1.7 million to satisfy the constitutional mandate. He noted that the $1.7 million would be remitted to PSS today.
“Taking all the budget, and the 25%, we would have, as an administration, complied with the 25% total budget,” he said. “We are in agreement [with PSS] for now that we will take care of what is on the books as 25% of the adjusted budget.”
“We understand that it has been a challenge for all of us during this typhoon recovery period. Ensuring the 25% for fiscal year 2019 to PSS was a priority that we have been working on for months,” Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said in a statement, also expressing his appreciation to key PSS and Board of Education members.
PSS was supposed to receive $42 million in fiscal year 2019. However, due to austerity measures, their budget was slashed several times until it was less than the 25% constitutional mandate, with the government prioritizing the recovery from Super Typhoon Yutu, after both Saipan and Tinian were devastated in late October 2018.