SAIPAN — Rep. Joseph Guerrero on Tuesday introduced a bill that would suspend the allocation of Marianas Visitors Authority funds to the three main islands of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
MVA's main funding source is hotel occupancy tax collections, which are remitted by the Department of Finance to the MVA Trust Fund.
CNMI law states that "not less than 2% for each municipality, but not less than $300,000 each, whichever is greater, of the funds per fiscal year from the MVA Trust Fund, shall be remitted to the Municipalities of Saipan, Tinian and Rota to be used to implement charter flight tourism incentives, promotional programs, tourism enhancement activities, beautification projects and islandwide cleanup, and to include purchasing supplies and equipment for such projects."
House Bill 21-128 aims to temporarily suspend that provision of the law for the 2021 fiscal year.
Guerrero said each of the three main islands gets $300,000 from the MVA Trust Fund.
In March 2019, he asked the mayors to submit an expenditure report.
"I'm kind of concerned how this money has been spent," he said.
MVA has yet to remit funds to the three main islands "because there's no money."
He noted that there is still $7.7 million in hotel occupancy tax money from fiscal years 2019 and 2020 that has not been remitted to MVA.
"We need to be mindful that we need to give money to MVA to promote the CNMI when we do reopen," Guerrero said.
His bill will be in effect from Oct. 1, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2021, or until MVA receives its share of the hotel occupancy tax collections.