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Funds identified to settle $3.8 million utility debt

By Gemma Q. Casas SAIPAN, CNMI (Mariana Variety, June 15, 2010) - The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) government says it managed to identify more resources to settle its arrears with the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. so it can buy more fuel for its power plants and avert rotating blackouts on Saipan.

CUC Deputy Director Abe Utu Malae told KSPN 2 last night that the power situation on Saipan "is pretty stable right now."

Malae told the Variety on Friday that CUC’s fuel supply was good for six days only unless the government remitted the required funds.

"The government still owes the utility US$2.3 million," Malae told KSPN.

Previously, the government owed CUC US$3.8 million.

Malae said CUC already sent out disconnection notices to government offices that are not current on their payments.

"By the end of the notice date, we got the checks," he told KSPN.

At least US$2.5 million more were reportedly identified as payment for CUC and are expected to be transferred to the general fund today.

Gov. Benigno R. Fitial earlier declared a state of emergency to allow him to reprogram funds for CUC.

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