Over $50M for tourism industry

Atalig expects to see large stimulus batch after May 17 deadline to file tax returns

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres has committed over $50 million in the next two years using the American Rescue Plan Act funding to assist the CNMI’s tourism industry as well as the business community, according to Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig.

“Yes, we are budgeting that amount. However, it does not mean they have to spend all of it,” Atalig told Saipan Tribune yesterday.

He said the administration is committed to the success of the tourism resumption initiative, which is being called Travel Resumption Investment Plan, or TRIP.

Atalig disclosed the $50-million commitment during a radio news briefing last Friday.

At the same briefing, Atalig said they have not processed any additional stimulus batches, but are expecting another large batch after the May 17 deadline to file tax returns.

As to the question at the briefing if the Torres-Palacios administration has identified an amount yet for subsidies for businesses in the tourism industry, Atalig said they have a percentage that they’re allocating. “We are still fine-tuning how we’re going to go about this,” he said.

The secretary said they’re talking about funding to assist small businesses here in the CNMI. That funding may be coursed through the Commonwealth Development Authority, Small Business Development Center, or the proposed Commonwealth Economic Development Authority.

“Those are in play, those are in discussions,” he added.

Atalig said they want to make sure that funding is available to those businesses or opportunities for those businesses that are not able to receive funding through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program.

For other small business, they’re pushing the Restaurant Relief Program and Small Business Development Center. Atalig said the Department of Commerce provided last week some workshops to try to help restaurants get some funding.

“So there’s a lot of programs going in but we will make sure that we have some funding that will help those that fall through the gaps,” he added.

As for further stimulus payments, Atalig said they will have another large batch once tax returns are submitted by the May 17 deadline and they identify the ones that haven’t received their stimulus checks yet. “I ask our taxpayers to make sure that they fill out those forms, those supplemental forms to submit with their tax returns for their 2020, identifying if they received the first, second, or even the third stimulus,” he said.

The secretary said they will make sure that funding is available so those that have not received but are qualified to do so will get their stimulus checks.

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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