A boost to the economy or to boost a campaign? Some NMI lawmakers are seeking answers about one of the Commonwealth's financial assistance programs meant to help "boost" local businesses.

CNMI House lawmakers have more questions than answers about the Commonwealth's latest program called BOOST, which stands for "Building Optimism, Opportunity, and Stability Together." It provides financial assistance to local businesses and non profits through grants provided by the Governor's Officer, Finance, and Commerce. 

Rep. Celina Babauta said, "To get to the bottom of the BOOST program, how much is the balance, and all the questions that come with it."

In a letter to the Secretary of Finance and Commerce, Representatives Celina Babauta and Donald Manglona ask for the names of entities that administer the program, funding or revenue source, names of all approved and disapproved applicants, and the amounts awarded to all recipients. The timing of the program during an election season has been questioned. 

CNMI Gov. Ralph Torres, who is running for re-election, has denied allegations of "vote buying" from the opposition. In response to KUAM Thursday, Secretary of Finance David Atalig says, "Its a program in the works for many months and wished we could of pushed forward earlier....I wish it was not politicized."

The lawmakers say that they haven't received a response from Finance or Commerce by their self-imposed 10 a.m. deadline on Nov. 18. Atalig says they're working on gathering the information. They plan to call those involved for a informal meeting to set the record straight. 

"Is it sustainable?" questioned Babauta. "Does it conform to statutes? It is really to help us in the legislature to create laws, bills with respect to federal funds in the future."

They say it is not an investigation, but a "fact-finding mission." 

"We are not politicizing this. Any hearing or meeting will be conducted...after the runoff. We are not going to do anything prior to that.  It is not related to or trying to influence anything with respect to the election," she added.