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Senator asks Finance not to reprogram Rota funds

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SENATOR Teresita A. Santos said reprogramming critical funds for Rota could jeopardize  local programs for the people.

She said despite the partial reopening of the CNMI economy, Rota has yet to generate any substantial funds available for appropriation.

The senator is asking the Department of Finance not to reprogram public funds for Rota.

“I understand the critical nature of the Covid-19 pandemic and the devastating consequences our Covid-19 response has on the government, businesses, the economy and the people of the CNMI,” she said in a letter to Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig.

Santos noted that Gov. Ralph DLG Torres has given the Department of Finance fiscal reprogramming authority as part of the government response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

She said Rota has very limited local funds from poker fees, e-gaming fees and casino gross revenue taxes.

Those local funds are used to pay for  Rota local  programs including  inter-island medical referrals, medical subsistence allowances, local infrastructure projects as well as the operation of the mayor’s office, she added.

“It is imperative to safeguard all the existing Rota local funds from all sources,” Santos said.

Based on her discussion with Atalig last year, she was informed that the Rota Legislative Delegation owed the central government $564,000.

In an earlier and separate interview, Sen. Paul A. Manglona said this amount included the $400,000 that the owners of MV Luta shipping company “borrowed” from the Rota delegation.

Public Law 21-10 appropriated, among other things, $1 million for various Rota local programs. The amount included $290,000 as partial payment from Rota to the central government.

On June 11, Santos told the Finance secretary that Rep. Donald M. Manglona introduced House Bill 21-116, which would reprogram the $290,000 “because it appears that Finance has not certified the funds owed by the delegation.”

Santos is asking Atalig to certify the amount that the Rota Legislative Delegation still owes the general fund.

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