Administration ‘working hard’ to meet FY 2021 budget deadline

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THE Torres-Palacios administration, through the Office of Management & Budget, is “working hard” to meet the April 1 deadline in submitting the fiscal year 2021 budget proposal to the Legislature, Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig said on Tuesday.

It is challenging, “knowing the pressing issues before us,” he added, referring to Covid-19 concerns and the steep decline in tourist arrivals and government revenue collection.

But he said the administration will submit the FY 2021 budget proposal on time.

House Floor Leader John Paul Sablan, in a separate interview, said despite the current crisis, “we cannot ignore the necessity to pass a new fiscal year budget.”

More cuts

Atalig said in addition to the 48% reduction that Gov. Ralph DLG Torres disclosed in his Executive Order 2020-05 last week, another 20% is expected to be reduced from the FY 2020 budget.

“In total, as a result of drastic [reduction in] tourist arrivals and business closures, the total loss in government revenue projection as of Tuesday is 68%,” Atalig said.

“As for the FY 2021 budget estimates, we are still analyzing our current economic situation,” he added.

In a separate interview, Press Secretary Kevin Bautista said the administration will submit its proposed FY 2021 budget on April 1. However, he added, “depending on the continuing impacts relative to the Covid-19 pandemic, the administration may have to submit a budget revision later in the budget process.”

He said the actual collections in the next 90 days will “help determine a more accurate fiscal position for the Commonwealth.”

Bautista said, at present the Office of Management & Budget is working on projections that are 52% less than the current appropriations act, Public Law 21-08 as amended by P.L. 21-16.

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