Villagomez wants more dialogue over ARPA spending plan
House Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez said Friday he wants House of Representatives members to have a dialogue with Gov. Ralph DLG Torres or any of the governor’s team to answer questions about the administration’s plan on how to spend the $512.07 million American Rescue Plan Act funds.
Villagomez said in an interview he is pretty sure there are things beyond what Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig showed in his recent PowerPoint presentation on the ARPA spending plan.
Villagomnez was unable to attend Atalig’s presentation because he had a family matter to attend to that day. He is thinking of meeting with the House members that did attend the presentation so he could be briefed on what was discussed.
“I know that, based on what is out on the media, there was no time for questions,” he said.
Villagomez said he and other House members may request an audience with Torres or maybe just with Atalig or whoever is responsible for managing the ARPA funds so they could get answers to some questions about the spending plan. He said it could be a joint dialogue with the Senate.
Last June 4, Atalig presented details of the CNMI government’s spending plan for the $512,076,165 ARPA funds. “This is a significant amount of funding that will benefit all our branches, autonomous agencies, departments, and this will provide significant direct assistance to the public,” said Atalig in his presentation before officials and members of the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches, mayors, private sector, and other community leaders at the Hibiscus Hall of the Crowne Plaza Resort Saipan (formerly Saipan Fiesta Resort and Spa).
In his speech, Torres said this ARPA funding will propel the CNMI government to the 21st century, through investments in the I.T. infrastructure of the government, creating simpler and more efficient methods for residents to interact with their government.
Before Atalig’s presentation, press secretary Kevin Bautista announced that they would not entertain question “at this time” due to time constraint.