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‘We have an open government’

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THE House Special Committee on Federal Assistance and Disaster Related Funding has requested that the administration provide the panel with all pertinent information, including payroll records, relating to the CNMI response to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres on Monday morning said that the administration will comply.

“Everything here is public record. What we have here is an open government. We’ve never hidden anything. We are not trying to hide anything. Whether it’s oversight or any individual that wants to find any documents that the government has, [they] can go in [to the administration building], make a request, and we’ll provide those requested documents,” he said.

Rep. Ralph N. Yumul, chairman of the House Special Committee on Federal Assistance and Disaster Related Funding, said on Tuesday that the panel is still gathering information from the administration. Photo by K-Andrea Evarose S. Limol

The governor’s authorized representative, Patrick Guerrero, said this week, he will be providing the special committee the information that it has requested.

“I’ll be providing all of the information that they have requested in the next day or two. Some of them shouldn’t really be directed to me, but I’ll put the information together from other agencies because we are working as a team in all of this effort,” he added.

 “Whether it’s overtime, whether it’s particular contracts that they want to see, and other information that they are looking to gather, as the governor said, we are transparent and we’ll open the books and everything for them to view.”

Rep. Ralph N. Yumul, chairman of the House special committee, said in an interview on Tuesday that the committee has given the governor’s authorized representative 10 days —  which, he added, is normal standard procedure — to respond to its requests for pertinent documents relating to the government expenditure of the Covid-19 federal disaster funding.

He said reasonable extensions are given, especially with department and agency operations adapting to “the new norm,” and added that subpoenas would only be issued if a response to the request of the committee is not received by the extension deadline.

Yumul said the committee needs to gather information first, review it, and, should there be any discrepancies, call in the agencies involved and have them explain, on record, why the discrepancies exist.

“Right now, there is some disconnect between the administration and the legislative body, and that’s where we run into a lot of issues within the community,” Yumul said, noting that the special committee is not privy to all the discussions during administration meetings.

He noted that complaints about the government expenditure plan have mostly been in-house, or within the government, and added that the special committee owes it to the people to look into their concerns.

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