Marianas Variety

Last updateThu, 24 Oct 2019 12am







    Wednesday, October 23, 2019-2:04:33A.M.






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Bill to create MPLT line of credit for government

SPEAKER Blas Jonathan Attao on Tuesday pre-filed a bill that would allow the Marianas Public Land Trust to provide the central government with up to $15 million line of credit.

BJ Attao

In an interview on Tuesday, Attao said House Bill 21-44 would help the CNMI government meet its obligations to the Settlement Fund and make bond payments.

A significant amount of monies in the general fund right now cannot be used for government operations because of the Settlement Fund and bond obligations, the speaker added.

The fiscal year 2019 budget allotted $44 million for the Settlement Fund and $8.5 million for bond payment.

The governor’s FY 2020 budget proposal allots $43 million for the Settlement Fund and $8.5 million for bond payments.

The proposed MPLT loan, Attao added, is not intended for government operations.

He said H.B. 21-44 is similar to the measure that allowed the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. in 2012 to borrow $11.58 million from MPLT.

According to Attao’s bill, “All funds remitted to the Commonwealth Department of Finance by MPLT shall be deposited into a special account outside of the general fund and shall be known as the ‘Settlement Fund and bond payment account’ within the Department of Finance; the secretary of Finance shall be the expenditure authority of the funds under the said account. Such funds shall be considered an advance for purposes of constitutional compliance.”

To repay MPLT, H.B. 21-44 states that the central government “pledges and appropriates the sum of up to $15 million from future interest income distributions into the CNMI general fund by the Marianas Public Land Trust starting fiscal year 2020 and future fiscal years thereafter until such time as MPLT’s loan…is fully satisfied.”

Moreover, “the Legislature agrees and consents that the Marianas Public Land Trust may withhold interest income distributions for such fiscal years as necessary to pay for and satisfy any due amounts for principal and interest due…. The Marianas Public Land Trust is hereby authorized to retain net annual distributable interest income under NMI Constitution Article XI, Section 6 (d) starting Fiscal Year 2020 until the full amount of principal and interest due to the Marianas Public Land Trust is satisfied or retired.”