admin's picture

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, May 31) – The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Senate unanimously approved yesterday a US$193.5 million spending limit for the next fiscal year.

The Upper House made no amendments to House Concurrent Resolution 15-1, which was adopted by the House of Representatives on May 19, 2006.

House Concurrent Resolution 15-1 endorses US$208.6 million as the total resources available to the Commonwealth for Fiscal Year 2007. However, the resolution shows that only US$193.5 million will be available for government operations due to fund transfers and certain fixed expenses.

Some US$1.6 million of the proceeds of the cigarette excise tax needs to be transferred to the tobacco control fund. Another 10 percent or US$2.5 million of excise taxes is due for transfer to the solid waste fund.

About US$2 million will also be set aside for the Public School System's bond repayment; US$5.2 million for the government's general obligation bond; US$1.1 million for the Northern Marianas Housing Corp.; and US$2.7 million for land compensation debt services.

However, the US$193.5-million limit does not include the Department of Public Lands, an agency within the Executive Branch that generates its own income. The Department of Public Lands is given authority to spend up to US$4.7 million of its revenues from public land leases. Any amount in excess of this limit should be remitted to the Marianas Public Land Trust.

With the appropriation limit identified, the Legislature will now begin discussion on how the overall budget should be distributed among government agencies.

The US$193.5 million budget, proposed by the Fitial administration, represents a US$5-million cut from the current fiscal year's already reduced budget of US$198.5 million.

It is also nearly US$20 million less than the government's last enacted budget of US$213 million.

In submitting the budget proposal to the Legislature, Governor Benigno R. Fitial said government offices had requested a combined budget amounting to US$251.8 million. But he cut the amount because "it is imperative that we all continue to exercise great fiscal prudence."

The new fiscal year will begin Oct. 1, 2006 and end on Sept. 30, 2007.

May 31, 2006

Saipan Tribune

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment