SAIPAN - The Marianas Public Land Trust said in a letter that it supports Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands House Bill 23-28, which would require the CNMI Department of Public Lands to submit its proposed budget to the CNMI governor, subject to approval by the CNMI Legislature.
Authored by Rep. Angelo A. Camacho, H.B. 23-28 seeks to resolve the ambiguity in the law by "expressly placing DPL into the normal budgeting process for an executive branch agency."
The bill, which was referred to the House committees on Natural Resources, and Ways and Means, states DPL must submit to the governor its proposed budget for appropriation by the Legislature.
The bill also provides that any funds not approved by the Legislature for DPL expenditures "must promptly be transferred to MPLT for investment as required by the CNMI Constitution." MPLT remains the investing authority, the bill stated.
In his letter to Camacho and Ways and Means Chair Ralph Yumul, MPLT Chair Phillip Mendiola-Long said the trustees support and endorse the bill’s passage. He said they appreciate the consideration the two committees have extended to MPLT.
H.B. 23-28, he added, will bring DPL "in line with the budgeting process under the Planning and Budgeting Act, and reaffirm the House's role as the constitutional appropriating authority."
He said the bill "makes it emphatically clear" that all DPL funds “net of its approved budget shall be transferred to MPLT within 30 days at the end of each fiscal year.”
Mendiola-Long said it would end DPL's practice of “banking” or segregating for itself public land lease funds without authority to do so.