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Last updateSat, 20 Jul 2019 12am

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    Friday, July 19, 2019-7:52:59P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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AG: Government can borrow from MPLT for disaster recovery

THE Commonwealth government may request for a loan from the Marianas Public Land Trust for emergency disaster relief and recovery, Attorney General Edward Manibusan said.

Edward Eladio Manibusan

“The Commonwealth may constitutionally borrow funds through a line of credit for the purpose of funding the expenses incurred relating to the Commonwealth’s emergency disaster relief and recovery programs which had to be implemented because of Super Typhoon Yutu,” Manibusan said in his letter to Finance Secretary David Atalig, who sought the AG’s legal advice.

The AG added, “Such funds may be used to reimburse the Commonwealth for such expenses that have already been paid from the general fund.”

If MPLT approves it, the AG said, the line-of-credit would require legislation that has to be approved by two-thirds of the members of the House of Representatives and of the Senate.

House Bill 21-44 proposes to allow MPLT to provide up to $15 million line-of-credit for the central government, but the House won’t act on it until the MPLT board writes to the governor stating that MPLT is granting the government’s request.

The AG said prior to any debt being incurred, the government must assess the valuation of real property in the Commonwealth to ensure that the maximum amount of line of credit does not exceed the ceiling.

Among other things, Atalig asked the AG if the line of credit from MPLT is a public debt as defined by the Constitution.

Manibusan said, “Yes, it is a public debt because it would be funded by revenues that are derived from MPLT investment income that is remitted annually to the general fund for legislative appropriation.”