Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Puerto Rico fiscal oversight board to hold public meeting Tuesday on gov’t financial statements, economic development

By on August 3, 2020

To discuss outstanding audits, present review of BDO Puerto Rico audit and present report on manufacturing opportunities; submits annual report

SAN JUAN — The Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico announced Friday it will hold its 20th public meeting Tuesday, Aug. 4, at 2 p.m. to discuss Puerto Rico’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports, “both in the context of ensuring urgent issuance of delayed audits and timely issuance of current audits, while reviewing the audit service quality of BDO Puerto Rico, as requested by members of Congress after the allegations made last summer against the firm’s former managing partner.”

The board will also present what it called a “fact-based apolitical report on the opportunity to bring pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing to Puerto Rico in light of national concerns regarding supply chain security.”

The panel said it commissioned a report approximately a month ago as discussions in Congress began with regard to legislation that might influence companies to return or expand manufacturing in the United States.

The board said in its press release that it had asked the government of Puerto Rico during its public meeting on July 1 to present a plan for how it “intends to complete the significantly delayed annual reports for the fiscal years 2017, 2018, and 2019, while ensuring the issuance of the 2020 audit on a timely basis,” adding that the Puerto Rico Treasury submitted an outline of its plan, which is being reviewed.

The board invited Treasury Secretary Francisco Parés Alicea‎ to discuss the government’s plan during the public meeting.

“It is alarming that these financial reports have not been completed despite efforts made to date by several treasury secretaries, and the Oversight Board would like to thank Secretary Francisco Parés Alicea for submitting the Government’s proposal for discussion,” said the board’s executive director, Natalie Jaresko. “The Oversight Board has been patient in light of the many disasters that required the Government’s full and primary attention. Nonetheless, the financial statements must be issued. The Oversight Board has pressed for process changes, for more accountability, and for more urgency. Puerto Rico will not regain access to the capital markets if its Government cannot provide timely audited financial statements, thus, it will be unable to meet the mandate of PROMESA,” she said using the acronym for the federally enacted Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act, which created the board. 

The fiscal panel said it will respond to the government’s plan Tuesday and outline its recommendations “to enable compliance with the task of completing the issuance of delayed audits within a year and enabling the issuance of fiscal years 2020 and 2021 audits on a timely basis.” 

“In addition to the financial responsibility required by PROMESA, there is another real consequence to not delivering these reports on a timely basis: the consequence is credibility,” Jaresko said. “The Government of Puerto Rico must focus with priority and leadership on completing its financial reports, delivering current audits on a best practices basis, and ensuring a process that is not dependent on any single person, any single entity, any single advisor.” 

The board also said it will submit its annual report to the U.S. president, Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced, the U.S. Congress and the Puerto Rico Legislature.

The public meeting will begin at 2 p.m. AST via videoconferencing.

Information on how to post public comments is available on the panel’s website, https://oversightboard.pr.gov.