Yaquinto is CUC’s new CFO


The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. finally has a new chief financial officer, some 10 months since the last CFO left in July last year.

Matthew Yaquinto, a certified public accountant from Michigan, officially took up the post last April 17. He had been previously working in Afghanistan.

Yaquinto has been working for overseas utilities since 2008. He worked in Georgia for four years, a year and a half in Liberia and Egypt, as well as Afghanistan for the past three months before he came out to Saipan.

He also lived in Russia from 1995 to 1999 after becoming a certified public accountant.

‘This gave me an opportunity,” Yaquinto said. “Some of the other places I’ve been to, they’ve all been restricted in how much they can spend [on] capital expenditure. So they are basically surviving on their operations based on the tariff they are charging their customers. [CUC] has similar challenges, though it is in a much better place than [the ones] I’ve been [to] before,” he said, referring to the war-torn countries he has worked in.

“When I was in Liberia, the whole country had been destroyed. The utility had to be rebuilt,” he said.

Less than 1 percent of the population gets electricity in the capital, he said. “They couldn’t even run their little mom-and-pop shops because there was no energy. They couldn’t’ afford it.”

Since arriving, he has been working with CUC and Commonwealth Public Utilities Commission consultants over the rate cases that will be heard at a public hearing today.

He has also been briefed on the debt owed CUC by the central government, which is some $30 million.

To this, he said, “You have to weigh the political ramifications. You can’t just cut off a house or school… But you also have to work with them. In the past I would work with [government] and try to develop a plan to help [them] pay us back.”

“I’ll try to approach the large debtors and try to provide some financial advice that maybe they don’t have,” he said.

On the rate change cases that will be heard today, which aim to help CUC repay its debt to the Commonwealth Development Authority and the Commonwealth Ports Authority, he said, “We want to be responsible.”

“I am looking forward to working with everyone. And making a difference out here and hopefully we can improve everything and get the systems running better,” he said.

Dennis B. Chan | Reporter
Dennis Chan covers education, environment, utilities, and air and seaport issues in the CNMI. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Guam. Contact him at dennis_chan@saipantribune.com.

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