State of GovGuam finances in debate - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

State of GovGuam finances in debate

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by Lannie Walker

Guam - It seems the Executive and the Legislative Branches of the Government of Guam just can't seem to agree on some financial figures crucial to the island's future. The latest clash is over the amount of money the government owes in tax returns.

When Governor Eddie Calvo's transition team came out with a pegged $96 million shortfall - now said to be closer to $126 million - Senator Ben Pangelinan took issue with the figure, claiming the Administration was making the financial picture gloomier than it actually is.  The chairman of the Ways and Means Committee has also taken issue with another figure released by the Calvo Administration.

"The governor just throwing that number out was a little bit reckless and we are trying to express our desire that we deal with the same individuals we should be coming up with the same numbers. The governor needs to account for the discrepancy," said the senator.

In his Weekly Radio Address on Monday Calvo pinpointed the figure of tax return payments the government owed at $286 million; Pangelinan says the figure he received from the Department of Revenue & Taxation was nearly $80 million less - at $209 million.

So who was right? Well, in a sense, according to Rev & Tax Acting Director John Camacho, they both are. Camacho says the $209 figure Pangelinan is referring to is correct as of September 2010. He says when he cited the figure to the senator during a fiscal informational hearing last week it did not include $61 million in Make Work Pay liability, $17 million tax credits paid since September, or $3.2 million in Earned Income Tax Credits that have also not yet been paid out.

Adding in those figures the number comes closer to $287 million, as cited by Governor Calvo. "Generally," noted Camacho, "it should be the same figure if you were to add that work to pay credit of $61 million and add back what was paid and then you add the remaining EITC it should be about the same amount."

And coming up with the same numbers are crucial, Pangelinan says, in order to plan ahead and account for government spending. "If we all set from different points we will always land up in different places and the only place we want to go of course is economic stability and growth and have an accounting of the people money that we spent to run our government," he said.

It's this point that Camacho and Pangelinan agree on, with the former noting, "Addressing the liability of the government is very important, so...I said $209 million but I did specify in the informational hearing that did not include the work to pay credit."

In addition, Camacho says he supports measures such as Bill 3, introduced by Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz, which would form a committee to address fiscal policies and the GovGuam shortfall.

In turn, Senator Pangelinan says he's working with Adelup to reconcile the figures. And Camacho assures the community the cooperation is there on his end, saying, "We want to work together with Senator Ben to address all of these issues. If there is any discrepancy, I've asked my staff to work with him to get those numbers with them so we can reconcile any differences we may have in the future."

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