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    Monday, December 9, 2019-3:25:41P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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‘We are really low on cash’

ACTING Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig on Wednesday told House members that the government cash flow is “scary as we are really low on cash.”

He and Special Assistant for Management and Budget Vicky C. Villagomez fielded questions from House members regarding the $12 million budget cut for fiscal year 2019.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Ivan A. Blanco thanked Atalig and Villagomez for accepting his invitation.

Blanco said he was also glad that the other House members were allowed to “seek answers” from Villagomez and Atalig regarding recovery overtime payment delays, Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursements, fiscal year 2019 second quarter revenue compared to FY 2018’, and the spending areas that will be affected by the budget cuts, among other things.

Blanco said Atalig and Villagomez agreed to work closely with his committee to resolve the issues raised by House members.

“Despite their busy schedules ahead of the submission of the FY 2020 budget, I am grateful for their time to clarify these recent financial issues with the Ways and Means members,” Blanco said. “We look forward to working with them on the FY 2020 budget as well as on the proposed budget adjustments for this current fiscal year.”

He added, “I am glad they mentioned that employee payroll, vendor payments, Settlement Fund payments, and other obligations are being prioritized.”

Atalig told lawmakers that despite the shortfall in the FY 2019 projection revenue, the government is trying to meet its obligations.

“The state of cash flow is scary, as we are really low on cash,” Atalig told the lawmakers. But he added that payroll and retirement obligations remain the government’s priorities.

He said revenue for the first quarter of FY 2019 was $45.4 million which is 4.7 percent less than the projection. In the second quarter the government collected $25 million only or about 20 percent of the projection, he added.

House members meet with acting Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig and Special Assistant for Management and Budget Vicky C. Villagomez on Wednesday.  Photo by Emmanuel T. Erediano House members meet with acting Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig and Special Assistant for Management and Budget Vicky C. Villagomez on Wednesday. Photo by Emmanuel T. Erediano

But Atalig said the “boost” in the enforcement of tax laws, the cost-cutting measures that the Torres administration is ready to implement, as well as the reimbursement from FEMA should help improve the government’s financial condition.

He said the cost-cutting measures alone should save the government about $10.9 million while the revenue and taxation task force that the administration formed has identified $300,000 in additional business gross revenue tax payments.

The recent influx of construction materials for those who are getting recovery assistance from FEMA should result in an increase in excise taxes, Atalig said.

“So we’re collecting revenue that somehow is sufficient for employee payroll and our obligations to retirees and vendors,” Atalig said adding that once the FEMA reimbursement comes in, it will be allotted to government payroll and the retirees.

House Minority Leader Edwin Propst raised concern about the 2.5 overtime pay that some cabinet members recently received while “many ordinary government employees who are in the frontline of recovery have yet to receive theirs.”

Villagomez confirmed that there are cabinet members who received a 2.5 overtime pay.

Propst asked why department secretaries and agency heads who are already getting “high salaries” are still entitled to a 2.5 overtime pay just because there was major disaster.

These cabinet members were the ones who got paid for overtime while ordinary employees are still waiting for their overtime pay.

Propst asked Villagomez to provide a list of those who have already received their 2.5 OT pay and submit it to the Ways and Means Committee.

The OMB chief said she will provide it on Monday.

“We just want to make sure that there is fairness, and payments are also made to ordinary government employees,” Propst said.