Initial study of CNMI government finances shows exhausted accounts
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Saipan-- Preliminary inspections of the CNMI government finances revealed that funds from various accounts have been exhausted, with some ending in negative balances, according to the governor's office.
"Nonetheless, additional work is currently being undertaken to reconcile balances and figures from various accounts, including federally sourced funds such as the American Rescue Plan Act," a press release from the governor's office said.
CNMI Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, who was sworn in last week, inherited the government's financial chaos from his predecessor, former Gov. Ralph Torres, whose term was capped by FBI raids and a legislative investigation into the federally-funded CNMI Building Optimism Opportunity and Stability Together, or BOOST program.
Torres' departure from office was subsequently hounded by a money laundering case that exposed under-the-table transactions such as illegal political contributions supposedly in exchange for favorable official policy actions.
As he started putting the house in order, Palacios promised to disclose details of the government's financial affairs once the audit of all records is completed.
“While we work to rebuild confidence and trust in our government, it’s critical that the true representation of our government’s fiscal resources is shared with the people,” Palacios said.
According to the governor's office, the administration is also reviewing all transition reports and financial records that have been prepared and compiled by the various transition teams assigned to evaluate current government operations.
While vowing to share the CNMI’s finances "in a transparent and prompt manner," Palacios said the administration needed more time to ensure the information shared is accurate.
At the same time, officials announced that the administration is exploring the need for short and long-term cost-cutting measures to ensure the sustainability of essential government programs and services.
The governor's office said details about the planned measures will be announced once the administration "gains a more accurate picture of its finances and provides a realistic plan for fiscal and economic recovery."