Saturday, April 10, 2021

Gov. Pierluisi Appoints Treasury Secretary Parés as Puerto Rico CFO

By on February 24, 2021

Puerto Rico Treasury Secretary Francisco Parés Alicea (Juan J. Rodríguez / CB)

Praising his work, governor stresses importance of completing audits 

SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico Treasury Secretary Francisco Parés Alicea was appointed this week chief financial officer (CFO) of the commonwealth by Gov. Pedro Pierluisi, who praised the official’s almost two-year stint as the island’s top tax official.  

“The Treasury secretary is an excellent resource in this government and his achievements are proven,” Pierluisi said in a press release, in which he stressed the urgency of completing the government’s overdue audited financial statements—an effort that Parés will now fully assume as the new CFO. 

Last week, Puerto Rico’s Financial Oversight and Management Board (FOMB) issued notices to 27 agencies and public corporations for not submitting their audited financial statements for fiscal year 2018. 

The commonwealth government has yet to complete comprehensive annual financial reports (CAFRs) corresponding to fiscal years 2018, 2019 and 2020. The oversight board has stated that “best practices” call for CAFRs for a given fiscal year to be issued no later than six months after the close of the fiscal year on June 30. The government issued the 2017 CAFR in August last year. 

Parés, a certified public accountant, was appointed Treasury secretary by then-Gov. Ricardo Rosselló on June 24, 2019, after the governor abruptly fired Raúl Maldonado, who had gone on a radio program where he said he was investigating an “institutional mafia” at the department that had threatened him and his family. Maldonado had also served as CFO. 

After then-Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez was sworn in as governor on Aug. 7, 2019, following the resignation of Rosselló, she kept Parés as Treasury secretary.  

Omar J. Marrero had served as CFO while heading Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (Aaafaf by its Spanish acronym) under both Rosselló and Vázquez, until Gov. Pierluisi appointed him as executive director of the Central Office of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience (COR3). 

Pierluisi said Parés was the ideal person to be the commonwealth’s CFO because of his successful effort to increase revenue by digitizing Treasury transactions through the agency’s online internal revenue system (SURI by its Spanish acronym). The governor said the new CFO had achieved record-setting general fund tax collections, even during the Covid-19 pandemic emergency. 

“He also spearheaded efforts to process more than 2.9 million forms or applications for financial aid through electronic mechanisms and, thus, distribute more than $4.2 billion directly to taxpayers and participants of the different aid programs to alleviate the economic crisis of Covid-19 on the island,” Pierluisi said in his statement. 

The governor recently entrusted Parés, together with the secretary of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC by its Spanish initials), with establishing an emergency economic assistance program for small businesses affected by the pandemic. This program has disbursed about $12 million to 2,124 merchants, he said. 

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