Fiscal board requests corrective actions to Puerto Rico budget
SAN JUAN – The fiscal control board notified the Puerto Rican Legislature on Tuesday of changes it needs to make to its newly approved budget in order to be certified by the panel created by Promesa. For this, the board granted a period of 48 hours.
The list of corrections includes cutting $119 million from budgetary allocations that would cover expenses related to the legislature, sports, municipalities and payroll, among others.
Specifically, the board requested that the Capitol’s allocation again be of $31 million, according to the budget presented by Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. The legislature raised the appropriation by $16 million, “without the same rigor or review as other components of the Proposed Budget, and, in some cases, appear duplicative of other expenses already allocated to the legislative branch,” according to Tuesday’s letter.
The federally established entity also required the elimination of $76 million in additional allocations to such areas as payroll, operating expenses, municipalities, sports events and entities that were previously subsidized by other sources. According to the board, the $76 million represents a “violation,” as it would be the result of “inappropriate” actions, as would the elimination of a 1 percent budget reserve.
The missive also points out the need to reduce $25 million in special allocations for different industries, associations, museums, foundations, choirs, ballets, operas, festivals, marathons, municipalities, scholarships and professional athletes, among others.
The board also asked the government to present more evidence on how it will implement the reduction in government spending measures that, according to the fiscal plan, should total $440 million during the next fiscal year. Of the estimated amount, the entity says some $200 million still lack implementation plans that demonstrate how the administration will achieve this goal.
Regarding the judicial branch’s budget, the fiscal board requested that a “technical error” in the way in which its budget allocation was established be corrected.
“The recommended budget includes several violations and requires $319 million in corrective actions,” the letter reads, adding that it would be best for the government to reduce spending under the budget in line with the recommendations made through the letter.
“Should the shortfall not be addressed appropriately, additional measures, such as furloughs and the reduction or elimination of the Christmas bonus, as well as commensurate savings from the Legislature’s appropriations, will need to be considered prior to the Board’s certification of the Proposed Budget,” the board warns .
On Tuesday, the governing body announced its eighth public meeting, which will take place Friday, June 30, in San Juan. During the new meeting, the board is expected to finally certify a budget for the new fiscal year, which begins July 1.