Tax refund money used for Yutu recovery. Seriously?


I just read Finance Secretary David Atalig’s account of what happened to the monies in the Special Rebate Trust Account. It would be funny if it weren’t, in my opinion, illegal. The law (4CMC§1714) is pretty specific. It states in part:

“At least 75 percent of all accounts paid to the government with respect to taxes imposed under this chapter shall not be placed into the general fund or commingled with other funds. …The proceeds may be withdrawn from the trust accounts only for the purpose of: (a) Making rebates for any fiscal year as provided in this chapter; (b) Payment into the general fund, but only after a final determination…that the amount in question is not validly subject to rebate under this chapter, or
(c) Payments into the general fund of the interest or earnings derived from such trust accounts.

Nowhere does the law say anything about exceptions because the governor declares an emergency. In fact, it specifically says that collected taxes”… shall not be placed in the general fund or commingled with other funds…” Apparently, no one in the CNMI government understands what “research” means. I mean, how hard is it to simply look up the rule or even find out if a rule exists? Was our rebate money used to pay the 2.5 times overtime pay?

And speaking of recovery, the administration keeps using Super Typhoon Yutu as a reason for literally everything, from “austerity” measures to questionable overtime to excuses for the “Garapan monstrosity” not being completed to no tax rebates. The mantra is, “We have no money because we are recovering from [Super] Typhoon Yutu.” Yet, I see people still living in tents. I still see broken or destroyed homes and businesses. So my question is, where did all the money go? The damage done to the electrical grid should be covered in Commonwealth Utilities Corp. recovery money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. So again, where did all the money go? This concerned taxpayer would like to know.

John Davis
Fina Sisu, Saipan

John Davis

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