GAO: The NMI’s public debt decreased 41% between fiscal 2017 and 2019 | news


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The Commonwealth’s total outstanding public debt went from 166.3 million territories.

As stated on its website, GAO is the federal government’s ultimate audit office, providing “timely, fact-based, and impartial information that can be used” to US Congress, heads of law enforcement agencies, and the American public, and government improve and taxpayers billions of dollars Secure dollars. ”GAO’s work is“ conducted at the request of congressional committees or subcommittees, or required by law by public law or committee reports ”.

GAO found that the 41.3% decrease was mainly due to repayments of outstanding debt. The total amount of outstanding government debt is the sum of outstanding debt securities and other debt held by the primary state and its respective entities.

Total outstanding public debt as a percentage of GDP remained generally constant at around 8% between fiscal years 2017 and 2019. Total outstanding public debt per capita decreased from $ 2,308 in FY 2017 to $ 1,958 in FY 2019, the lowest figure among US territories.

“The decline in our public debt is a sign of our commitment to the sustainability of public finances, transparency and accountability of funds for their intended purposes. It has always been a goal of our government to fulfill longstanding commitments to put our government in a better budget position than when we took office. We are determined to continue this progress so that we can ensure our children and future leaders are better off, ”said Governor Ralph DLG Torres in a statement.

“Despite the fact that the CNMI had two disasters, this GAO report shows that we have continued to improve in the repayment of our national debt. We will continue to make every effort to rebuild our economy and provide opportunities for our employees despite the ongoing challenges of the global pandemic. We hope that we will continue to move on this path and improve the lives of our employees in the future. Our financial goals are designed to meet the needs of our employees while reducing our obligations and liabilities, ”said Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios.

GAO also found that CNMI’s total revenue fluctuated between 2017 and 2019 due to natural disasters, particularly Super Typhoon Yutu and Typhoon Mangkhut. Total CNMI revenue was $ 516.6 million in FY 2017, increased to $ 705.4 million in FY 2018, and decreased to $ 656.5 million in FY 2019.

CNMI’s overall revenue was $ 334.4 million in fiscal 2017 and decreased to $ 266 million in fiscal year 2019, an overall decrease of 20.4%.

In fiscal 2017, total CNMI spending was $ 430.1 million and increased to $ 689.8 million in fiscal 2019, an increase of 60%.

This significant increase in total spending is mainly due to higher spending on health, public safety and law enforcement, community and social services, and the component area of ​​the public school system.

Of the total spending in fiscal 2019, primary government accounted for $ 524.2 million, while component units accounted for $ 165.6 million.

In fiscal 2019, CNMI ran a $ 33.3 million deficit, largely attributable to Super Typhoon Yutu.

In fiscal 2017, it had a surplus of $ 86.5 million. “The fluctuations in sales are alluded to our economic growth in 2017 and 2018 and the unfortunate decline in fiscal 2019 due to the typhoons that hit our economy. Because of this, we ran a deficit in 2019 after having a surplus in 2017 that was eliminated to meet our immediate recovery needs after super typhoon Yutu, ”the governor said.

GAO found that while the CNMI’s total debt continued to decline, deteriorating economic conditions and significant pension obligations pose fiscal risks.

“The Covid-19 pandemic had a significant negative impact on tourism, CNMI’s main industry. Area officials told us that as of January 2020, tourism from Asia has dropped significantly at the start of the pandemic, resulting in a sharp drop in expected general revenue. Area officials told us they are taking steps to diversify the economy in areas such as digital technology, cannabinoid products and fisheries, ”the GAO stated in its report.

“By working with our council of economic advisers, our business community, the legislature and people in our community who have shared their ideas with me, we have a policy plan to diversify our economy, to generate new income for our government and community, with new ones Jobs can be created for our people, “said the governor.

The CNMI reported a net pension liability for the primary state of $ 529.3 million in fiscal year 2019, representing 44% of GDP that year. The CNMI has already secured a pension commitment to ensure full pension payments, the administration said.

A copy of GAO’s June 2021 Report on the US Territories Public Debt Outlook is available online at https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-21-508

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