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House minority bloc asks leadership to look into OPA report on first-class travels

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THE House minority bloc on Wednesday urged the leadership to seriously look into the Office of the Public Auditor’s report on government travels.

In its report, OPA stated that the CNMI government has been spending public funds on first-class or business-class travels over the last four years.

Public Law 15-86 prohibits the government from purchasing first-class or business-class plane tickets.

According to OPA, CNMI government travel expenditures have increased by about 27% for autonomous agencies and about 152% for the executive branch.

In fiscal year 2018, OPA said the overall total travel expenses of the CNMI government reached $17.2 million, a 93% increase from the overall total in FY 2015.

 

 

House Minority Leader Edwin Propst, center background, speaks during the House session on Wednesday. Photo by Emmanuel T. Erediano

During the miscellaneous part of the House session on Wednesday, House Minority Leader Edwin Propst said this is a “tremendous” increase in government travel expenses.

He wondered what happened during that period of time that demanded such an increase in travel costs.

He hopes to get from OPA a breakdown of these expenses, so they can see what caused these amounts “to skyrocket.”

He also wonders how the attorney general would comment on the OPA report.

There have been multiple first-class travels, but they have not heard anything from the AG, whether all these are acceptable or not, Propst said.

“I hope we can look into this as a body,” he told his colleagues.

He said  Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig, is now working on a uniform travel policy.

For her part, Rep. Tina Sablan, another member of the minority bloc, said she believes that the Legislature has a role to play in the investigation of government travel expenditures.

 

   

 

 

 

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