Public-Debt Audit Committee to Hold First Meeting Next Week
Puerto Rico Senate President Eduardo Bhatia called for the first meeting next Tuesday, Jan. 19, of the Public-Debt Audit Committee. The committee will examine and evaluate the hiring, refinancing and/or renegotiating process of Puerto Rico’s public debt, the origin and destination of resources, as well as the performance of programs financed with internal or external debt. The first meeting was originally set for December but was cancelled. The Public-Debt Audit Committee was created through Act 97 of 2015 in July, and has to render reports of its performance every six months.
The commission has to define the methodology to conduct the audit of Puerto Rico’s $70 billion debt as ordered by law, create a database that allows for all manner of analysis regarding the indebtedness process and set up an information transparency system for the investigative, auditing and future indebtedness processes.
Besides Bhatia, the committee’s members are P.R. House Speaker Jaime Perelló; Senate majority spokesperson Aníbal José Torres; Senate Minority Leader Larry Seilhamer, Puerto Rican Independence Party Sen. María de Lourdes Santiago; House Majority Leader Charlie Hernández; House Minority Leader Jenniffer González; Government Development Bank President & Chairwoman Melba Acosta; Statistics Institute Executive Mario Marazzi; economist José Alameda; lawyer & CPA Juan Lorenzo Martínez; Puerto Rico Syndicate of Workers President Roberto Pagán; FirstBank President Aurelio Alemán; Irma Hilario Arroyo, representing the Caguas Savings & Loan Cooperative; and P.R. Chamber of Commerce President Frank Medina.
These appointments were made last November by the heads of both legislative bodies, in compliance with the disposition of law that states that if the governor didn’t complete the appointments within 10 days after the law went into effect, by mutual agreement the heads of the Legislature would carry them out.
“The country and its fiscal situation are at a critical moment whereby determined action has to be taken regarding the debt. In this process, transparency is indispensable for all parts, especially for the people of Puerto Rico. That is the spirit of the creation of the Public-Debt Audit Committee through Act 97 of 2015, and it is my commitment that action is taken to carry out the duties described in that law,” Bhatia said.