Gov. Ralph DLG Torres is ready to answer any question from the two House panels established to conduct an oversight on his spending, as well as expenditures based on federal assistance and disaster-related funding.
At the news briefing yesterday, the governor expressed confidence that his record of expenditures will hold amid the investigations.
“All my expenditures are on public record so whatever they want to ask questions and whatever they find, I’m here.”
“When you look at this, I have discretions on how funds are being used. So, I am confident that the expenditures that was done, was according to the law, and in terms of the federal funds in regards to this pandemic, I am absolutely happy that they’re looking into that,” he added.
Early Monday, the House Special Committee on Fiscal Review of Executive Expenditures, formed to continue the oversight on all spending made by Torres, met to discuss subpoenaing agencies involved in some spending. Prior to this, last month, the House Special Committee on Federal Assistance and Disaster Related Funding begun its review of documents related to awarded contracts and government overtime payments related to the CNMI’s COVID-19 emergency response.
The governor also defended all the departments, Cabinet members, and first-responders—even businesses, for taking the helm and doing the work, when the world first heard about the pandemic and left many people afraid, especially on the island.
“At the end of the day, are we safe here, or are we not? At the time that we’ve got the emergency, I think we should congratulate and thank those companies that stepped up and were able to provide us the necessary equipment, supplies, that no other country no other state can claim.”
“Up to today you still have other states, other territories that are having issues. We don’t have issues on supplies, we don’t have issues on equipment. We have our alternate care sites ready to go. We wish we would never use them. During those times, we need to do what we need to do to provide health care, and to provide our public health. And we did exactly that,” he added.
Torres also highlighted the local government working with Federal Emergency Management Agency partners, as well as where the CNMI currently stands in the pandemic, which is, at just 33 cases.
“They have the authority to do their investigation, but at the end of the day, again, are we better off today in our health than any other states or territories? I’m confident that everyone here would answer that question, “Yes, we are safe. We feel safe,” Torres said, as he acknowledging the legislative body’s authority to conduct the oversight.
“Now that that we feel safe, now they’re going around [to do] some investigation. So, whatever it is, we’re here to answer any questions.”