CNMI GOVERNMENT FACING PAYLESS PAYDAY

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Administration seeks emergency funds

By Gemma Q. Casas - Reporter SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, June 17, 2010) –ACTING Gov. Eloy S. Inos called on the Legislature to hold back-to-back emergency sessions today to pass a bill that will grant him authority to reprogram at least $6 million from independent agencies to the general coffers to avoid a "payless payday" tomorrow.

Variety was told Inos held a closed-door meeting with key members of the House of Representatives and the Senate at 1 p.m. yesterday at the conference room of the governor’s office to discuss the matter.

"Pursuant to Article II, Section 13 of the NMI Constitution, I hereby call for an emergency session of both houses of the 17th NMI Legislature on June 17, 2010 at 10 a.m. to specifically consider a reprogramming measure in order to give the governor full reprogramming authority to prevent payless paydays beginning pay date June 18," stated Inos’ memorandum.

Gov. Benigno R. Fitial is still in Manila for medical reasons.

In an interview with reporters, Senate President Paul A. Manglona said the Legislature is being asked to pass House Bill 17-15, House Draft 1, sponsored by Rep. Ray N. Yumul, R-Saipan.

"It’s not news that we’re in a serious financial bind but it came to a point that it’s now affecting our payroll. [Inos] told us we need to provide him some reprogramming authority so he’s calling for an emergency session provided under the Constitution," said Manglona, Ind.-Rota.

The government continues to operate under the continuing budget resolution of $148 million.

Projected revenue collections, however, have dropped and the original fiscal year 2010 proposal of $150 million was readjusted to $137 million.

Actual collections may be much lower.

"Basically, it’s a cash-flow issue that we’re in this situation," said Manglona.

H.B. 17-15 was hastily redrafted yesterday to include certain specific conditions.

The original version was intended to help delinquent home loan borrowers of the Northern Marianas Housing Corp.

The re-drafted bill will grant the governor unlimited authority to reprogram available funds for the current fiscal year, FY 2010.

It specifically allows the governor to reprogram funds available to all public corporations, agencies and entities of the commonwealth government except those that are restricted to be touched by federal law or by federal grant conditions.

Funds invested by the Marianas Public Lands Trust and the Retirement Fund are also exempt from being reprogrammed.

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