Torres says deficit at $133.17M


Gov. Ralph DLG Torres has notified the Legislature that the total spending and obligations for fiscal year 2020 exceeded the appropriated resources by $133,172,087.

In his FY 2020’s Annual Financial Report dated Nov. 5, 2021, Torres noted that of the $133.17 million deficit, $85 million was a direct result of the COVID-19 threat and mitigation efforts used to keep the CNMI as safe as possible from the spread of the virus. Of the $85 million, an anticipated 75% to 90% of these funds is expected to be reimbursed to the CNMI government by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Torres said another $10 million of this deficit was a result of medical referral costs during the fiscal year, while another $9 million was expended to supplement Group Health and Life Insurance coverage for retirees.

The remaining $29 million, Torres said, was attributed to expenses and obligations incurred prior to the implementation of the across-the-board budget reduction.

He said the destruction and ensuing economic impacts caused by Super Typhoon Yutu persisted well into the beginning of fiscal year 2020.

While the Korean tourism market eventually began to regain noticeable momentum in the first quarter of fiscal year 2020, this progress was later undone by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fiscal year 2020’s original budget amounted to $233,222,527, as outlined in Public Law 21-08.

However, Torres said, because of the necessary and active monitoring of collected revenue, revised budgets were made, first, in the amount of $184,834,810 on Feb. 6, 2020, followed by a second revised budget in the amount of $150,463,188 on March 11, 2020.

He said the actual collections in fiscal year 2020 totaled $169,942, not including amusement, casino revenues, and other licenses and fees also known as earmarked resources stipulated in Public Law 21-08.

Torres said subsequent debt service payments, the earmarked funds, and critical budget reductions made due to the pandemic’s significant effects on the economy, the remaining available general fund resources for appropriation ultimately stood at only $77,179,916.

“Additional COVID-19 related expenditures increased throughout the fiscal year in order to continue the implementation of mitigation efforts essential to protect the health of our community,” the governor said.

With the recent approval of the second pandemic relief and government funding measure, Torres said the CNMI anticipates an increase in federal funding necessary to continue the COVID-19 mitigation efforts and address the shortfall of available resources for the continued administration of government services.

Torres said they join the Finance Department in encouraging future legislation geared toward generating revenue and encouraging business development that can aid in meeting the government’s fiscal year 2021 revenue projections.

Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig prepared the report.

The law requires that no later than three months after the end of a fiscal year, the Governor’s Office shall submit to the Legislature an itemized comparison of amounts appropriated, obligated, and expended during the previous fiscal year, and revenues identified and collected during the previous fiscal year.

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
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