Monday, October 23, 2017

Puerto Rico’s fiscal board rep says Legislature to address concerns with budget

By on June 5, 2017

SAN JUAN – Elías Sánchez, the Puerto Rico government’s representative to the island’s financial control board, assured that after the fiscal panel partially certified Gov. Ricardo Rosselló‘s budget, the Legislature will make required adjustments and approve a spending plan.

“Now it goes to the legislative process where it will face adjustments and particular details will be reviewed,” Sánchez said Monday morning in a local radio interview (WKAQ 580).

Elías Sánchez, the governor’s representative to the fiscal control board, informed the Legislature will amend the govenor’s budget before it can be certified by the board ahead of fiscal year 2018. (Juan J. Rodríguez/CB)

The attorney recalled that it was the fiscal board that requested the governor to modify certain special allocations, even though it certified the overall spending level of the general fund budget, which amounts to $9.562 billion.

Sánchez said the governing body created by the federal Promesa law has differences with certain allocations to agencies and programs that fall outside the normal budget. He reiterated that “we are confident that we will have a budget validated by the Legislature.”

Public hearings over Puerto Rico’s budget kick off Wednesday

On Sunday, House Treasury Committee Chairman Antonio “Tony” Soto gave details of the legislative evaluation of the budget, with public hearings beginning Wednesday. The New Progressive Party representative added that before that, separate meetings will be held with both the board’s and the Fiscal Agency & Financial Advisory Authority’s (Fafaa) technical teams.

With the governor’s fiscal team, Rep. Soto seeks more details on how they drafted the budget that was presented last week by the Gov. Rosselló. Meanwhile, the legislator hopes to receive the board’s technical team and discuss with the specific areas that must be addressed and modified.

If the fiscal board fails to certify a government-presented budget version by June 30, it would impose its own spending plan for the commonwealth as it begins a new fiscal year on July 1.

Meanwhile, ahead of the status referendum on June 11, Sánchez believes the budget evaluation process should not affect the vote. He also said this is the first time Puerto Rico has a fiscal board, and “if the government managed to get a budget certified by it, that should give more trust to Puerto Ricans.”

“[Gov.] Rosselló’s administration has shown it knows what it has to do; the approved budget proves it, and what’s left now is the step toward equality,” he said.

The board partially certified the budget version presented by the Rosselló administration, as it only approved the “aggregate spending level. The governing body required modifications to several discretionary spending earmarks for failing to meet the objectives of the commonwealth’s certified fiscal plan. The fiscal panel also requested more evidence on how exactly the government will achieve some of the projected spending cuts.

Puerto Rico Legislature asks fiscal board to justify budget

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