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Wednesday 27 April 2016 | Published in Regional

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GUAM – An audit released Monday of finances related to the upcoming Festival of Pacific Arts in Guam has revealed that event organizers are facing a possible budget shortfall of $1 million, if additional revenue isn’t secured soon.

The audit also states festival organisers broke Guam’s procurement laws when soliciting for the construction of concrete huts on festival grounds.

The Office of Public Accountability released its audit on Guam’s readiness for the festival, which the island is hosting from May 22 to June 4.

The Festival of Pacific Arts is held every four years. Thousands of people from around the Pacific are expected to attend.

The event currently faces an estimated $1.1 million shortfall in project expenses, the audit states.

In 2013, the event’s coordinating committee approved a $13 million budget. However, in March, the committee reported its budget was much smaller – with $6 million in revenues and $7 million in estimated expenses.

The $6 million in revenues includes $4.5 million in government funds and $1.1 million in sponsorships, donations and fundraising.

In a release Monday, the government said it ha sent a bill to the legislature that would authorise $1.5 million to cover an appropriation shortfall for the festival.

The bill to address the shortfall would appropriate money from the Tourist Attraction Fund from fiscal 2017 revenues to the Guam Visitors Bureau, the release states.

“We’re in the final leg of preparation and we look forward to working with senators, several of whom sit with us on the committee, to ensure we’re prepared to receive more than 3000 guests,” said Festival Director Rose Ramsey in the release.

The audit also stated that the construction of 34 accommodation huts, which cost $2.2 million, violated Guam procurement law because it didn’t undergo a review by the Office of the Attorney General.

“It is in the best interest of the government to continue the completion of the construction project – however, review by the AG after the fact is warranted,” the audit states.

As of March 2016, $1.6 million had been paid in four payments to the contractor of the huts, the audit states.

There were also issues with the contract for event management services, the audit states. The contract didn’t specify how much the contractor would be compensated for its services As of March 23,2016, three payments totaling $578,000 had been paid with $119,000 was for event management services, the audit states.

The contractor was paid a total of $119,000 for two months worth of services, but there were no details about the pay rate or hours, the audit states.

Because there’s an $800,000 cap on the services contract, goods and services the committee wanted to purchase will need to be procured by other means.

The Guam Visitors Bureau is working with the event’s planner, Adztech, to help procure the needed items, GVB General Manager and FestPac Coordinating Committee Chairman Nathan Denight said.

In response to the audit, FestPac committee members wrote a letter stating they agreed the event is currently underfunded.

Denight last week said the committee is working hard to get the needed funds.

Event organisers are also working to get other sponsors for the event.

The committee is also working on cutting things from the budget where they can, Denight added. “Even with all that, we will need additional funding.

- Pacific Daily News