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Rep. Blanco: Government must retire over $120M deficit in 2 fiscal years

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HOUSE Ways and Means Chairman Ivan Blanco said the CNMI government must retire its over $120 million deficit in the next two fiscal years.

On Monday, the Department of Finance submitted to the presiding officers of the Legislature a revised annual spending report for fiscal year 2019, which indicates an $88.7 million budgetary deficit, as a result of a $16.6 million revenue shortfall and overspending by $72 million.

“With this revised annual report from Finance, we have to determine how much funding we will have to commit [to be] able to retire the deficit,” Blanco said in an interview.

Article 10, Section 6 of CNMI Constitution states, “If an operating deficit is incurred in future fiscal years, the government shall retire the deficit during the second consecutive fiscal year following the year.”

Blanco said besides the $88 million deficit in FY19, the government also incurred a deficit of $25.9 million in FY18 and $8 million in FY17 based on the annual report that Finance submitted on Dec. 31, 2018.

Blanco said he will have to “sit down” with Finance Secretary David Atalig to discuss the report.

Blanco recalled that the last time the government incurred deficits was in the years prior to the arrival of the casino operator on Saipan.

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