Torres signs $15 million spending bill


Gov. Ralph DLG Torres signed into law over the weekend a bill that appropriates $15 million to several government programs and departments.

Torres signed Friday Rep. Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan) House Bill 20-164 after discussions in the conference committee delayed its enactment by weeks.

H.B. 20-164, now Public Law 20-61, appropriates $15 million from the Special Casino Gross Revenue Tax Account to several government programs and allocates funds to private telecommunications company Docomo Pacific, based on a 2016 memorandum of understanding.

About $7 million is allocated to the CNMI Judiciary’s mold removal and remediation as well as the rehabilitation, relocation, and procurement of a new air-conditioning system for the Guma Hustisia, which remains closed to the public since March 2018.

Another $3 million goes to land taking compensation.

Some $2.4 million is allocated to Rota, with $1.2 million going to the Rota Pinatang Beach Park renovation project; salaries for municipal employees; the construction of a concrete wall to secure the Rota water cave area; Rota medical subsistence allowance; Rota Department of Public Safety Academy ongoing cycle operation, gear procurement, and supplies; Rota interisland medical referral air transportation costs; interisland medical referral patient and escort stipends; Northern Marianas Trade Institute programs for Rota students; and Rota student housing allowance, among many others.

“By the enactment of this law, our Rota patients and escorts will now be provided with stipends to help defray food costs and etc. when they are referred to Saipan,” said Sen. Teresita Santos (R-Rota) in a statement. “Moreover, the [appropriation includes] funding for housing allowances for our Rota students pursuing postsecondary education. Similarly, this can help augment our students’ housing expenses.”

A total of $1.2 million appropriated to Tinian goes to the improvement and pavement of Marpo Heights II subdivision roads; Tinian DPS new hires; and the procurement of several vehicles for the Tinian Department of Public Works, the Tinian Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, and the Tinian Department of Finance, among many others.

Another $650,000 is paid to Docomo Pacific for including Rota in their new fiber optic cable connection while $165,000 is paid for including Tinian.

It also earmarked $700,000 for the rehabilitation and improvement of the Sugar Dock on Saipan, while $1.08 million is for the architectural and engineering design and construction of a solid waste transfer station at the southern part of Saipan.

“I want to thank the House and Senate conferees for their swift deliberation and collaboration to come up with a compromise version. I also want to thank the members of the Legislature who voted to pass the final version of the bill,” said Demapan in a statement to Saipan Tribune.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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