CUC acting board chair mulls disconnecting delinquent non-essential agencies

THE acting chairman of the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. board, Weston Thomas Deleon Guerrero, has asked CUC chief financial officer Tony Castro to provide a list of non-essential government agencies that have unpaid utility bills.

“They need to pay,” Deleon Guerrero said. “If they don’t make payments they will be disconnected.”

At the CUC board meeting on Friday, Castro reported that the CNMI government owed $48.3 million to CUC. He did not provide a breakdown of the amount, but Guerrero said he was informed that the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. had the largest unpaid bill. CHCC’s last utility payment of $9 million was made in 2017, he added.

CUC chief legal counsel James Sirok said CHCC has at least 16 different accounts and most of them are not essential.

He said they have an agreement with CHCC, but “if they are not complying with the agreement then we need to do something else.”

But CUC board member Miranda Manglona expressed concern that the disconnection plan may affect the health clinics on Rota and Tinian.

Commonwealth Development Authority acting chairman Diego Songao, who represented CDA on the CUC board, said they should not only disconnect government agencies with unpaid bills but also negotiate with them to collect what they owe.

CUC Executive Director Gary Camacho said there have been on-going negotiations between CUC and the central government with regard to identifying funds to cover the unpaid utility bills of CHCC.

In an interview, Deleon Guerrero said he will not recommend disconnecting CHCC because “it is not morally right for us to disconnect the services of our lone hospital.”

However, he said there are non-essential agencies with unpaid utility bills and they should be encouraged to conserve their usage of power and water, and pay their bills.

He said delinquent non-essential agencies should include in their budget requests to the Legislature funding for their unpaid utility bills.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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