Municipal Data Reveal Waste of Public Funds
SAN JUAN – Over the past six years, 17 municipalities have squandered about $35 million in municipal projects that have no use, the Puerto Rico Comptroller’s Office revealed in an audit Tuesday.
The data came from 35 irregularities detected in the municipalities from 2011 to 2016. The information showed that Culebra, Luquillo, Naranjito and Vieques spent $27.3 million for activity centers; Aibonito, Culebra, Peñuelas, Rincón and Río Grande disbursed $2.3 million in recreational area; and Gurabo, Santa Isabel and Vega Baja paid $1.2 million on monuments, structures and bronze plaques.
In a report, the comptroller recommended that the heads of the Senate and the House of Representatives legislate that if mayors incur in these expenses, these be charged in their budgets for the misuse of funds. The comptroller said the Legislature should implement better oversight on the use of funds for capital works.
The report, which includes photos of some of the structures that remained useless, also reveals that about $1.4 million was spent by Ceiba, Culebra, Río Grande, San Germán and Vega Baja in facilities that had no utility. Vega Baja paid nearly half a million for a surveillance system that is not being used. Ten municipalities invested $2.9 million in professional services contracts for these projects and others that were not finalized.
The waste of funds contrasts with the data that for fiscal years 2011 to 2014, half of the island’s municipalities had deficits and that overall municipal debt increased by 17% from 2010 to 2015, to $4.1 billion.