Bhatia Convenes Public Debt Audit Committee Hearing for this Month
Senate President Eduardo A. Bhatia has convened for a Jan. 19 meeting the commission in charge of auditing the island’s $72 billion public debt.
Bhatia also revealed the names of the members of the Public Debt Audit Committee, which were appointed two months ago by the legislative leaders after the governor failed to do so at the time. The audit is necessary to allow the government to determine the real amount of the public debt.
“The country and its fiscal state are at a critical juncture, where we have to take decisive action in relation to the debt. In this process, transparency is essential to the parties and especially to the people of Puerto Rico. That is the spirit of the creation of the audit committee,” Bhatia said in a statement Thursday.
The committee’s duties are to evaluate the hiring process, the renegotiation of the public debt, the origin and destination of resources and the implementation of programs funded by internal or external debt.
The panel’s main job is to design a methodology to conduct the audit of the public debt, create a database that would allow for all types of analysis on the process of indebtedness, and to set up a transparent information system for the audited information and for indebtedness processes.
The committee comprises House Speaker Jaime Perelló; Senate Majority Leader Aníbal José Torres; Senate Minority Leader Larry Seilhamer; Puerto Rican Independence Party Sen. María de Lourdes Santiago; House Majority Leader Charlie Hernández; House Minority Leader Jennifer González; Government Development Bank President Melba Acosta; Puerto Ric Statistics Institute Director Mario Marazzi; Economist José Alameda; attorney and CPA Juan Lorenzo Martínez; Puerto Rican Workers Union President Roberto Pagán; First Bank President Aurelio Alemán; Irma Hilario Arroyo, who represents Cooperativa de Ahorro y Crédito de Caguas; and Chamber of Commerce President Frank Medina.
“These designations comply with the statute, which says the committee should comprise legislative leaders, majority and minority spokespeople, two representatives of the executive branch, such as the GDB president and the director of the Statistics Institute, representatives from the banking and savings & loans sector and from the unions, a professor with knowledge of law and accounting, an economist, and a representative of the public interest,” he said.
The legislative leaders appointed the committee’s members in November to comply with the provision of the law that states: “If the governor of the commonwealth of Puerto Rico has not appointed the representatives listed here after 10 calendar days, they shall be appointed by the legislative heads.”
The Public Debt Audit Committee was created by a law enacted in July.
Photo: Puerto Rico Senate President Eduardo A. Bhatia
By Eva Lloréns