Wednesday, February 24, 2021

In First Bill Package, Pierluisi Looks to Audit Puerto Rico Debt

By on February 17, 2021

The Puerto Rico Capitol in San Juan (CB/ESM)

SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi filed his first package of legislative measures with the New Progressive Party (NPP) lawmakers in the House of Representatives, among which are Joint House Resolution 63, which proposes auditing the public debt, and House Bill 533 to open a window for the government to rehire pensioners and retirees who resigned after being offered an incentive to be able to work part-time without affecting their pensions.

“These pieces of legislation are part of our programmatic commitments as a government, are necessary to be able to effectively carry out our work and accompany the presentation we made on the next budget several weeks ago,” Pierluisi said in statement.

“I thank the NPP legislators for their collaboration, given these are measures that should not create controversy and that seek benefits for our employees and for the efficiency of our government itself. For this reason, I trust that the legislators of all parties will be open to evaluate them and vote in favor of them in support of this feat for the benefit of Puerto Rico,” the governor added.

House Joint Resolution 63 establishes that the Office of the Comptroller must audit the debt issued by the government of Puerto Rico, its public corporations, instrumentalities and municipalities from 1952 to 2016. It also empowers the entity to refer whoever “it deems pertinent, if anyone, to the Department of Justice, the Panel on the Independent Special Prosecutor or any federal agency with jurisdiction over the matter, as well as evaluate whether to challenge any debt issued illegally,” reads the release issued by the governor’s office.

Through House Bill 533, the governor proposes to open a window so that pensioners who retired from the government or employees who resigned based on an incentive, such as teachers, social workers and police officers can work part-time in the government again without their pension being affected.

Another piece of legislation in place is House Bill 534, which proposes to centralize the recruitment of all government personnel, ordering public agencies and instrumentalities to transfer to the Office of Personnel Administration of the Government of Puerto Rico, formerly OATRH, the human resources personnel required for the recruitment process, along “with the budget corresponding to the payment of payroll and employee benefits,” the release reads, adding that a website will be created for people to submit their job applications.

Finally, House Joint Resolution 64 empowers the Administration for the Care and Comprehensive Development of Children (Acuden by its Spanish acronym) to acquire real estate for the Head Start program.

The release says the Pierluisi administration has “corroborated and confirmed with the Office of Head Start, New York Region II” that there are millions in disaster recovery funds that could be requested by Acuden so the Family Department can acquire property rights “to establish new and modern Head Start facilities.”