CNMI GOVERNMENT SEEKS TO TAP PROJECT FUNDS

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Capital improvements fund would go to operating costs

By Emmanuel T. Erediano SAIPAN, CNMI Islands (Marianas Variety, Feb. 23, 2011) – The House of Representatives and the Senate, yesterday approved resolutions urging Gov. Benigno R. Fitial and Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan to request the U.S. Congress to allow the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to use its capital improvement project funds for government operations.

House Joint Resolution 17-28 urges Sablan to introduce a bill in the U.S. Congress that will allow the CNMI to use US$25 million in unexpended Capital Improvement Program (CIP) funds for operations, at least temporarily.

The resolution also requests Sablan to ask the U.S. Congress to reinstate an "indefinite, permanent appropriation" for the islands’ CIP funding amounting to US$27.7 million annually.

Senate Joint Resolution 17-11 has a similar intent, but the Senate incorporated it into H.J.R. 17-28 which it then adopted.

The Senate version of the resolution wants Fitial to cooperate with Sablan in requesting the U.S. Congress to allow the Commonwealth to use CIP funds for government operations.

The Fitial administration earlier said that some Capital Improvement Program funds are unexpended due to environmental surveys and other federal requirements that the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands has to meet.

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