HAGATNA, 27 APRIL 2020 (THE GUAM DAILY POST)—At least US$117 million in federal funds is now in government of Guam accounts – funds intended to aid the local response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Adelup also received word that Guam received a US$12 million allotment from the U.S. Department of the Interior. GovGuam officials will need to get approval before that money can be drawn down, Adelup confirmed.
While direct federal aid to GovGuam has started pouring in, federal funds that would put money directly into the hands of Guam taxpayers and the now unemployed have yet to arrive.
Stimulus checks may be available by early May, while unemployment checks could be ready by late May. By that time, many residents would have been out of a job for two to three months.
Meanwhile, Senator Telo Taitague said she hopes the governor puts the federal money to good use, as she and other senators demand accountability and transparency.
The governor said the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act, which set aside US$2 trillion for states and territories, already provides for proper reporting and accounting of federal dollars.
Federal moneys are not required to be reported to the Legislature, the governor said. Local senators have oversight over local funds, she said.
Senator James Moylan proposed advancing the payment of unemployment benefits using local money, and then get the federal government to reimburse those funds later.
He said his proposal closely mirrors how the local government fronted the payment of war claims, to be reimbursed by the U.S. Treasury.
“Thousands of island residents are struggling as we speak and, while providing assistance is a decent start, there are many other necessities and obligations that these families have to endure, thus the need for a monetary compensation,” Moylan wrote to the governor.
The governor also used US$11 million in local funds recently to advance the payment of stimulus checks to those earning US$10,000 or less a year.
During her press conference on 22 April, the governor said she has yet to see Moylan’s proposal.
“Whatever that is being … introduced when in terms of local unemployment programme, I think that they would also have to make sure that they have the appropriations to make it happen,” she said.
Speaker Tina Muña Barnes, in responding to Moylan’s letter, said the war claims programme took months just to come up with a draft memorandum of understanding with the federal government.
The speaker urged Moylan to work closely with labor oversight chairwoman Senator Régine Biscoe Lee regarding his proposal.
“Once you have a commitment from the federal government, and if we still have not had a public hearing by the time you secure such commitments, we can discuss alternatives,” the speaker wrote.
On Sunday, there were 37 samples tested with no new positive cases. That means Guam remains at 141 total positive cases since testing started in March with 128 people who’ve recovered…..PACNEWS