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By Gerardo R. Partido

HAGATNA, Guam (Marianas Variety, March 21) – With the administration still finalizing its fiscal recovery plan, the Guam Legislature has taken the initiative by passing Bill 15, which contains various measures to reform the way the government of Guam manages its finances.

Sponsored by Vice Speaker Eddie Calvo, R-Maite, the legislation requires the administration to implement revenue tracking report and a fiscal realignment plan that would ensure greater clarity and accountability of Government of Guam’s finances.

Calvo describes the bill, which was passed unanimously, as the culmination of a collaborative effort between majority and minority senators, as well as administration officials who want to solve Government of Guam’s current financial woes.

"This is in line with the governor’s deficit elimination plan so I don’t see any problems with him signing it into law," Calvo told Variety.

Under the bill, the Department of Administration, the Bureau of Budget and Management Research, and the Department of Revenue and Taxation shall provide to the Legislature, no later than 30 days after the close of each month in fiscal year 2007, the revenue tracking for the balance of the fiscal year based upon the actual collection of the preceding month, as well as a statement containing the "actual" and "projected" revenues.

"They should be doing this anyway. But with Bill 15, it is now legislated and thus it can’t be ignored. They have to comply with it," Calvo said.

The bill also provides that 30 days after the close of each quarter of the fiscal year, DOA, BBMR, and Revenue & Tax shall determine whether revenue projections for the year remain valid based on the actual revenue collection of previous months.

If the revised revenue projection is below the adopted revenue level by 3 percent or greater, the governor is required to submit to the Legislature a fiscal realignment plan which may include, but is not limited to, cost containment and austerity measures, governmental reorganization and other such plans or actions, to address the revenue disparity.

Calvo said this is a safeguard mechanism which would ensure that Government of Guam’s deficit remains controlled and manageable. In the past, Calvo said there were conflicting figures on Government of Guam’s actual revenue projections, resulting in poor expenditure planning.

"This is the first time that this is done. It is important for Government of Guam to be accurate on its revenue projections because the lack of clarity in revenues is exactly what got us into this financial mess in the first place," the vice speaker said.

An amendment sponsored by Sen. Ben Pangelinan, D-Barrigada, would also require Government of Guam to post its current financial status on a Web site that anyone can access. This is also expected to lead to more transparency and accountability.

Under the bill, Gov. Felix P. Camacho will likewise be required to submit a revised fiscal year 2008 executive budget incorporating the administration’s deficit elimination plan and any departmental budget allocation adjustments required by the plan.

Calvo said this was a point of contention during previous roundtable discussions on Government of Guam’s finances as administration officials proposed a deficit elimination plan separate from the budget.

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