P.R. Treasury submits plan for distribution of new Covid-19 aid payments
President Trump signs $900B pandemic relief package that will provide stimulus checks
By Yanira Hernández Cabiya
SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rico Treasury Department will present to the federal government on Monday its plans for the distribution of aid to island residents to be provided by the $900 billion pandemic relief package signed into law on Sunday by President Trump.
The omnibus bill also obligates $1.4 trillion to fund government agencies through September and contains other end-of-session priorities such as an increase in food stamp benefits. The measure provides $600 economic stimulus payments to most U.S. citizens, as well as a $300 increase in weekly unemployment benefits between Dec. 26 and the middle of March.
Puerto Rico Treasury Secretary Francisco Parés said during a radio interview on Monday morning that his agency will ask the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to allow Puerto Rico to use the same information provided by island residents to the federal agency for the distribution of the first Covid-19 relief aid during the summer.
“In terms of our work calendar, last time it took us 14 days to be able to issue the checks; this time it should take us 14 hours,” Parés said during an interview on Radio Isla.
However, the Treasury chief acknowledged that the IRS has made no commitment to expeditiously approve the commonwealth plan for distribution of stimulus payments or make the transfer of money required to issue the payments.
Moreover, Parés expressed concern that the IRS may not have enough resources to quickly assess the commonwealth’s proposal, given the year-end holidays and government transition.
“We are subjected to a different scrutiny,” he said in reference to U.S. territories like Puerto Rico, which must present their plans separately, apart from what is established for the states.
The Treasury chief said that as soon as Puerto Rico’s aid distribution plan is approved, he expects that 90 percent of the payments will be distributed in three weeks. He recommended that residents who requested to receive payments from the first Covid-19 aid package through the mail, this time request direct deposit to receive the upcoming payments faster.