Kilili pushes $90M disaster loan for NMI

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U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan said he has fulfilled Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ request to include in the  fiscal year 2021 U.S. budget a provision that will allow the CNMI to avail itself of the Federal Emergency Management Administration Community Disaster Loan Program.

Kilili said the governor asked him for “a change in the law” so the CNMI could borrow about $90 million through the FEMA Community Disaster Loan program.

“I fulfilled that request with language in Section 312 of the FY21 appropriation for the Department of Homeland Security, released this week. Inclusion in the Democratic majority’s base bill means the loan provision will pass in the House,” Kilili said.

“So only an objection in the Republican Senate or from the President would kill the Governor’s request,” he added.

Kilili said the current law allows municipalities to receive Community Disaster Loans, not a state-level government like the Commonwealth. It also caps the loans at $5 million.

“The language I had added to the appropriations bill removes those two barriers. The Commonwealth suffered significant lost revenues and increased operations expenses as a result of the back-to-back typhoons in 2018; and the loan is intended to cover that difference. My language also gives three years to apply, rather than the usual two, so the Commonwealth can reach back and claim the 2018 losses,” Kilili said.

The governor earlier informed Kilili that his administration had been working closely with FEMA since March 13 to access all federal resources available to the CNMI pursuant to the presidential declaration, including a request for the mobilization of the Incident Management Action Team to assist the CNMI in its emergency protective measures and response coordination to combat Covid-19.

He told the congressman that he was looking forward to a much needed access to the disaster loan assistance. “Whole-of-government efforts being put forward by the Trump administration in this time of great need will help fragile economies like ours minimize economic disruption as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the governor said.


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