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NMI government eyes $111M for FY21

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THE projected revenue for government appropriation in fiscal year 2021 is $111 million, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres is required by the CNMI Constitution to submit a budget proposal for the next fiscal year to the Legislature by April 1.

The FY21 projection takes into account the trend in revenue collection resulting from the cancelation of flights from China “and the risk factors” pertaining to “emerging global events,” Special Assistant for Management and Budget Vicky Villagomez said.

The FY20 budget amount for government operations was originally $148.8 million. Following the suspension of flights from China due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, Finance Secretary David Atalig informed Gov. Ralph DLG Torres that the budget has to be reduced to $106 million.

This requires a 28.3% across-the-board cut in all branches, departments, and agencies of the government.

In her FY21 budget call memorandum to heads of departments, activities, autonomous, semi-autonomous and independent agencies as well federal programs, Villagomez said the revenue projections for the FY21 budget “are under the assumption of current collections and account for key economic factors anticipated to affect growth in our economy.”

“Those key factors include [the] trend in current collections, the cancellation of the four weekly flights from China, and the risk factors over emerging global events,” the OMB chief said.

After deducting all the earmarks, payments to the Settlement Fund, and debt service, she said, the net budgetary resources available for appropriation in FY21 is $111,195,556.

Compared to the original FY20 budget amount, “this is a significant reduction affecting all branches by 25.3%. The Office of Management and Budget has established a baseline allocation as guidance for each agency to start your budget formulation. Changes to the baseline allocation may vary between departments and may occur before the submission should the secretary of Finance identify an adjustment in the net resources,” Villagomez said.

She advised all the departments and agencies to “collectively begin with a cautious approach, to be transparent and accountable for all allocated resources” in order to address the adjustments in allocations in FY21.

“We encourage your departments to realign your operations and activities accordingly to the programs being supported. We expect your department or agency to submit a copy of all approved federal programs, indicating how these funds will support your operations and activities in fiscal year 2021. The outcome of your submission should demonstrate the efficiency and effectiveness of your department to maximize all funding sources to continue providing services,” Villagomez said.

She asked all the department and activity heads to submit their respective budget proposals electronically, no later than Feb. 28, to give OMB sufficient time to review and enter all submissions and meet with the agency before the governor’s April deadline.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Ivan Blanco said: “We can do this. It’s time to adjust our sails.”

House Floor Leader John Paul Sablan and Rep. Joseph Leepan T. Guerrero said they could not comment on the revenue projection for the FY21 budget because of the uncertainties with the FY20 budget.

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