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    Thursday, July 18, 2019-9:07:52A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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SHEFA office may shut down

SAIPAN Higher Education Financial Assistance board chair Oscar M. Babauta said the SHEFA office may have to shut down due to lack of funds.

Babauta has asked the chairman of the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation, House Floor Leader John Paul P. Sablan, to “initiate an immediate appropriation [for SHEFA] for the current fiscal year.”

Oscar Babauta

In his letter dated June 14 which the office of Sablan received on June 17, Babauta said he was concerned over the “seriousness of the non-passage of any budget to SHEFA for fiscal year 2019.”

Babauta said the Department of Finance’s SHEFA fund status report showed a negative balance of $24,698 for operations as of June 14.

“We are getting calls regarding payments that haven’t been made to our vendors since February,” Babauta told Sablan.

He said SHEFA’s vendors include Joeten Motors, Western Telecom Communications, White Coconut Computer Services, Commonwealth Utilities Corp., IT&E, Quick Print Postal Services, National Office Supply, Saipan Tribune and IP&E.

“The board has no choice but to consider closing the office that administers Public Law 13-21,” he said, referring to the scholarship program.

In an interview, Babauta said he had not received any response from the Saipan delegation.

He said he had already discussed their financial situation with Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang, who assured SHEFA that his office will extend “administrative assistance.”

Babauta said the possible disconnection of SHEFA’s utilities could affect the program office’s communication with scholarship recipients here and abroad.

“We are processing applications for the fall semester and if our communication lines are cut off, we would have no contact with the students,” he added.