Senate temporarily halts budget hearings


The Senate has temporarily halted the budget hearings for some of the “big ticket” departments of the Commonwealth.

Due to the recent typhoon and ongoing communications outage, there has been no update yet on the postponed hearings.

Early last week, members of the Senate Committee on Fiscal Affairs were only able to conduct a hearing for the Department of Public Safety.

The scheduled hearings for the Department of Finance, Department of Public Safety, CNMI Medical Referral Program, and Department of Public Works last week were postponed and no new date has been set.

Finance Secretary Larissa Larson said she was supposed to attend the budget hearing last week, but the hearing was reset for another date.

The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. is expected to have a budget hearing on July 15 at 9:30am, while the Public School System is scheduled on July 14 at 9:30am.

Department of Fire and Emergency Services chief Clyde Norita also said he has yet to receive word as to when his department needs to attend the hearing.

Earlier, Sen. Jude Hofschneider (R-Tinian), chairman of the Senate Committee on Fiscal Affairs, said the budget hearings are meant for senators to ask more questions of CNMI departments.

The Senate may not come up with a version of a draft government budget before the House version is adopted, he said.

Hofschneider clarified that the Senate committee he heads will start with the bigger departments.

Thursday House session

The House version of the budget has been adopted by the House Committee on Ways and Means but is yet to be presented to whole body.

A House session is scheduled on Thursday to discuss the committee-adopted budget, according to a staff from the Office of the House Speaker.

The House version of the budget adopted by the Ways and Means Committee was pegged at $149.5 million.

This “budget bill” for fiscal year 2016 is slightly higher than the government’s earlier proposal of $145.8 million.

Joel D. Pinaroc | Reporter
Joel Pinaroc worked for a number of newspapers in the Philippines before joining the editorial team of Saipan Tribune. His published articles include stories on information technology, travel and lifestyle, and motoring, among others. Contact him at

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