GDB’s Acosta On Audited Statements: ‘We Are Not Hiding Anything’
SAN JUAN — On Friday, Government Development Bank (GDB) Chairwoman & President Melba Acosta said that although the commonwealth’s audited financial statements for fiscal year 2014 have yet to be delivered, they would only confirm what government officials have been saying all along: the situation is bad.
“We are not hiding anything. The situation is as bad as we are explaining,” Acosta told Congress staffers on Friday, after briefing them on the island’s latest fiscal developments.
While originally due last May, government officials have pointed to a number of reasons that have delayed the statements’ release, including the commonwealth’s quick-changing fiscal situation, which has prompted the government’s independent auditors, KPMG, to ask for additional projections and disclosures. Moreover, certain commonwealth components have yet to finish their auditing processes, including the GDB and the commonwealth’s largest retirement system.
On Friday, the GDB chief reiterated the government has provided everything auditors have requested, but “they keep asking for more information,” while noting this is a “high risk audit” with multiple layers of reviews.
But as part of an ongoing legal case between Puerto Rico and retailer Walmart over a transfer pricing tax, a top KPMG executive testified in court that the government still owed certain information that was requested as part of the audit, including documents that have not been delivered and others that are still in draft form. The executive added it would take an additional eight weeks to finish the process once the commonwealth delivers all the necessary documents.
Different sectors, including some high-ranking Republican members of Congress, have called for the release of the audited statements in order to have a complete, independent picture of the island’s financials. To that end, Acosta replied, “We have tried to put as much information as we can so the market understands where we are at,” adding that a draft of the statements would be made public soon.
As she pointed to the continuous deficits the government has faced for over a decade, Acosta said, “trust me, 2014 is going to be the same…[they] are not going to be beautiful financial statements. They haven’t been for I don’t know how many years.”
While Treasury Secretary Juan Zaragoza believes that the fiscal 2014 audited statements, could finally be delivered between “the last week of March and first week of April,” (they were due last May) La Fortaleza hasn’t pegged a release date, although noting advancements in the auditing process.