By Pacific Island Times News Staff
As of Feb. 28, the administration has allocated $196.45 million from a total of $578.7 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 allocated to Guam.
However, the monthly ARPA reports do not describe the purposes for which federal taxpayer dollars are used, according to Sen. Telo Taitague.
The reports simply identify government of Guam agencies that have been allocated ARPA funds and corresponding information on total expenditures and encumbrances, Taitague added.
"The reports do not itemize expenditures nor do they attempt to detail how the government of Guam spends millions in federal taxpayer dollars," Taitague said.
The lack of transparency in the administration's ARPA expenditure prompted Taitague to introduce Bill 282-36, which would require the Bureau of Budget Management and Research and the Department of Administration to provide more information on how federal taxpayer-funded pandemic aid is prioritized for Guam.
Bill 282-36 is cosponsored by Speaker Therese Terlaje, Sens. Joanne Brown, Frank Blas Jr., Anthony Ada and Sabina Perez.
Besides ARPA, the measure would also apply to the funds obtained by Guam through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
“While our tourism industry remains closed and additional federal resources appear unlikely considering a reluctance by Congress to move on the Build Back Better proposal, Guam’s share of ARPA and infrastructure funding should be used with a clear plan in place which will help improve the quality of life for all our families,” Taitague said.
“Rather than prioritizing these critical federal resources for additional recovery programs and direct aid for families who are struggling to deal with the rising costs of food, fuel, and utilities, the monthly ARPA reports continue to tell us that Adelup is more interested in reserving funds for agencies including the Bureau of Women’s Affairs, Civil Service Commission, CHamoru Land Trust Commission, Guam Ancestral Lands Commission, Contractor’s License Board, and Guam Ethics Commission.”