Comptroller points out irregularities in Tourism Co.
SAN JUAN — An opinion issued Tuesday by Puerto Rico Comptroller Yesmín Valdivieso revealed that operations related to regulations, advertising, disbursements, filing of documents and a required plan from the Promotion and Marketing Office of the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. were not carried out in accordance with applicable law and regulations.
The report signals out five findings, including payments for advertising services without formal purchase orders or contracts having been produced. From a sample of the $275.8 million disbursed from 2009 through 2016, the findings reveal that purchase orders were prepared up to 592 days late.
In addition, the comptroller’s report indicates that ads worth more than $500,000 were placed in newspapers and magazines without any of Puerto Rico’s official names included, while the agency was unable to provide fiscal documentation nor a media-marketing plan before 2013.
In addition, Tourism’s 2008 operations manual for marketing and promotions had not been updated, and agency directors did not submit reports to management, as required by the manual. In addition, the agency issued 16 resolutions in recognition of debts for $1.9 million without a contract having been formalized. This happened from Oct. 19 2009 to March 26, 2010.
The audit notes that Tourism did not comply with the Government Accountability and Program Execution Act of 2010 and that its budget division lacks written standards for operations.
The report also states there was an increase in occupancy at Tourism-backed lodging and that an official registry with the properties that comprise the island’s hospitality industry does not exist.
In addition, the report says that the decline in the island’s rank, from 53 to 55, in the Global Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index, is due, among other things, to not evaluating the quality of the tourism infrastructure and transportation, and that the agency did not include objectives or strategies to strengthen competitiveness subindexes such as safety and security, health and hygiene, international openness, tourism infrastructure, information and communications technology, and price competitiveness.
The comptroller’s report covers the period from Jan. 1, 2009, to June 30, 2016.