GovGuam finances remains in the red - News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

GovGuam finances remains in the red

by Nick Delgado

Guam - It appears the Government of Guam is spending more than what's actually coming into the General Fund. A recent report from the Office of Public Accountability shows that the island's public sector has actually forked out nearly $100 million more than revenues it has received.

"We have been in deficit mode for the last umpteen years and we haven't really been able to chip away at that," noted Public Auditor Doris Flores Brooks, adding, "we appear to make it seem as if we have a balanced budget when in fact, we don't - because we forgot to take care of about $30-$40 million of other items that are still recurring."  

The latest audit of the government's finances show a continued trend of spending beyond its means. While the report notes a significant improvement in GovGuam's deficit, Brooks says the numbers remain alarming, saying, "While the good news is the deficit has gone down a little bit, the bad news is every year from now on - every six months or so - we'll have to come up with $10 million to pay for the deficit bond."

"Definitely, your generations are going to have to foot the bill."

Audit Supervisor Rodalyn Marquez says the main contributing factor to the decline to the deficit was the issuance of the $271 million General Obligation Bond, which paid for tax refunds, COLA payments and other operating expenditures. But Marquez says the Deficit Financing Bond, coupled with $202 million in landfill bonds, has put an even bigger strain on the government.  "The outstanding debt of Guam increased to $767 million," she quantified.

The report more specifically noted $30 million decrease in revenue, which she says is the biggest gap in this decade compared to GovGuam expenditures, adding, "I don't see the gap closing, I don't see us living within our means and that means that people will continue to be delayed in the payment of their tax refunds, and other obligations like to vendors like the who is doing the parks, your seeing pockets of things like that happening around."

Brooks says the government's continued practice of spending more than what is collected must stop.  

Finance Committee chairman Senator Ben Pangelinan says the audit is proof that the current financial condition must be adjusted, telling KUAM News, "That's the people's money, and have to return it to them.  So I always support in finding opportunities and ways in getting the refunds in the hands of the people. It is the other expenditures in the government that we need to look at and try to hold the line."

Governor Felix Camacho meanwhile issued a statement in response to the audit and said despite the challenged economy, the report shows that GovGuam has been accountable and aims to manage its limited resources.  The governor says work will continue to identify new revenue-generating sources.

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