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Finance chief: NMI still has $4.9M in relief funds

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SECRETARY of Finance David DLG Atalig on Tuesday said the CNMI still has $4.9 million in federal relief funds.

He appeared before the House Special Committee on Federal Assistance and Disaster Related Funding to testify on the role that the Department of Finance plays in the CNMI Covid-19 emergency and response.

He also reported on the expenditure of the $36 million Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or CARES Act funding provided to the Commonwealth by the federal government.

He said the government also identified $8 million from other sources, bringing the total funds available to the CNMI for this disaster to $44 million.

Of the additional $8 million, $2 million came from the Commonwealth Casino Commission and $6 million from the Commonwealth Development Authority.

As of July 20, Atalig said $13.1 million had been spent, “but we have [other] obligations that are still pending payment. I just scheduled for payment through our payable process for another $26 million.”

 Secretary of Finance David DLG Atalig, left, appears before the House Special Committee on Federal Assistance and Disaster Related Funding  on Tuesday. Photo by K-Andrea Evarose S. Limol

He said he came up with a projected spending plan for the $36 million in federal relief funds, which he then shared with the governor and the lt. governor.

“There was no direction or even suggestions… There was no conversation between the governor and myself about how to spend. As I said, we got this money [and] I’m holding onto this money to take care of our expenses as we continue this fight against the pandemic.”

He added, “I knew that we were spending to protect our borders, to protect our residents from this pandemic. I knew it was costly.

“[But] I always wanted to make sure that I had something for us at the Commonwealth level to reserve, so to speak, because…if I use it all up…and a second wave comes…what are we going to do?”

He noted that while the CNMI received $36 million in CARES Act funds, Guam received $140 million.

 

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