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Puerto Rico fiscal board requests monthly reports from all branches

By on August 22, 2018

SAN JUAN – In letters sent Tuesday, the executive director of Puerto Rico’s financial oversight board, Natalie Jaresko, notified Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz and House Speaker Carlos Méndez that the board “must have access to the financial and operating data of all branches of the Government.”

The new requirements are for the Legislative Assembly, Ombudsman, Civil Rights Commission, comptroller, Ethics Office and judicial branch.

“Pursuant to PROMESA [Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act] 104(c)(2), the Oversight Board hereby requires the following:
(1) A point of contact for all relevant matters at the Legislative Assembly; (2) A monthly cash and liquidity report; (3) A monthly budget to actual report; (4) A monthly report of employee attendance; (5) A monthly reconciliation of bank account balances,” Jaresko’s letter to the legislative leaders reads.

In the case of the legislature, she also instructed that documents for the Senate, House, Office of Legislative Services, Superintendence of the Capitol, and “any other component units under the umbrella of the Legislative Assembly” be sent separately.

“We are available to meet at your earliest convenience to discuss these requirements and templates. We ask to meet during the week of August 27, 2018 and that you bring to this meeting draft reporting templates for requirements #2-#5. The Oversight Board is hereby requiring that reporting for the month of August be submitted on September 15, 2018,” the letter added.

Speaker Méndez Núñez assured Wednesday that he would not comply with the request, while the Senate’s Rivera Schatz said his chamber’s details were available online.

“Of course not,” Méndez said in WKAQ radio interview, “We are totally transparent, but we will not respond to the absurd demands of the Fiscal Control Board.”

Rivera Schatz, meanwhile, told the radio station that the “vast majority of the information [Jaresko] is asking for” is on the Senate’s website “right now.”

He also demanded that the fiscal board also be subject to the same reporting requirements.
“The interesting thing would be that the board do the same, for that requirement of transparency and accountability to be followed by them.”

“We received the request of the Board, curiously the day after an amended Fiscal Plan was submitted. The Board bases its request on the provisions of the PROMESA Law–provisions that reflect our colonial reality and that have been denounced and fought by this servant since the beginning. In fact, we are in a judicial proceeding in which we are questioning the powers of the [board] before the Judicial Branch of the United States for precisely, among other things, exceeding its powers when trying to take revenge on the Legislature of Puerto Rico for not wanting to approve the repeal of Act 80,” Méndez said in a statement.

“This new attack on the separation of powers and democracy will be fought in all relevant forums,” he added.

“The Legislative Assembly has all its financial accounts up to date. In all our history we have not overdrawn. The [board] itself is the one that has made our constitutional powers precarious, with an internal budget…imposed through political muscle and blackmail attempts. We cannot forget that the total budget of the Legislative Branch, which includes the House and the Senate, does not exceed 1 percent of the budget that the [board] has imposed on us. But then, they ask for quarterly reports from the Executive, which represents 94 percent of the budget, but monthly reports to the Legislative Assembly. Is that their great capacity for fiscal management?” Méndez said.

“Are they as open…with their financial information?” Méndez further asked. “‘We are available to meet at your earliest convenience to discuss these requirements and templates,’ is the intention of…Jaresko. She is not in Ukraine where she imposed her will. This lady cannot impose her criteria on the Representatives and Senators elected by Puerto Ricans,” he said.

Méndez stressed that a “Notice of Appeal,” which is procedurally an appeal even though the legal arguments have yet to be submitted to the court, was presented to the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.

The letters can be found on the fiscal board’s website.

–Cybernews contributed to this report.

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