CNMI delegate calls former governor's actions 'criminal'
The CNMI's delegate to Congress, Gregorio Sablan isn't pulling any punches about the deficit former Gov. Ralph Torres left the Commonwealth in.
"That is a lot of money to be overdrawn when you have $482 million to spend the first time and you spend $560 million, plus who knows [how much] local funds -- that is criminal."
That alleged criminal behavior is what the delegate said he wanted to avoid when he asked the Interagency Group on Insular Areas to provide oversight on ARP expenditures on Saipan a year ago.
"Yeah, on the ARPA things we have asked Treasury to take a fresh look and see if this BOOST program for example was done consistent with the plans and proposals," Sablan said.
Sablan met with the governor Thursday following the interview with KUAM. He said the transition report's finding that the former administration turned off a budget control feature on the island's financial management system is alarming.
'Turning off that budgetary control on MUNIS -- there is a reason why that tool is there," he said. "Turning it off so you could overspend is criminal if that is the case."
Sablan said the Commonwealth could be at risk of receiving new federal funds if an audit reveals misappropriation or mishandling.
"Since Typhoon Mangkhut, Soudelor, Yutu, COVID, everything, the Commonwealth has received in commitment if not completely spent about $2 billion in federal money. That is a lot of money and if We can not fix out problem even when we get 2 billion?"
Governor Palacios is expected to release the exact figures of the deficit and a revised budget in a month.