Puerto Rico Statistics Institute requests court solve board composition issue
SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rico Statistics Institute (PRSI) filed a motion before the Court of First Instance of San Juan reiterating its request for a declaratory judgment and injunction, which it petitioned following a legal controversy that arose last summer regarding who is entitled to comprise its board.
The request was filed Tuesday ahead of a hearing scheduled for Feb. 27. The legal recourse goes into “how the situation represents real and serious damage to the implementation of the Organic Law of the Institute (Act 209-2003), particularly oversight of statistical products and functions as well as the adjudication of controversy over who has not complied with information request orders issued by the Executive Director,” according to a release by the institute.
“Six months have passed since the present case began, and in the Institute, as well as in some cases among the general public in Puerto Rico, in the United States and in the world, the effects have begun to be seen,” the PRSI says in the appeal filed, which also lists the alleged damage resulting from the absence of an operational board.
Among these effects, the entity stresses that without its board, “the Institute has not been able to establish the standards, nomenclatures and typification of methods that the Government must follow to estimate the number of deaths due to hurricanes Irma and María, and then be able to monitor the quality and reliability of statistical products generated by the Government on these deaths.”
The motion also says the uncertainty has caused the delay in the preparation of statistics and information requirements. As an example, the the PRSI claimed it has been unable to assist the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) in creating a plan to help restore the island’s grid.
“The damage caused to Puerto Rico is real. In the absence of a Board of Directors, the Institute has not been able to take action to ensure that statistics on the impact of hurricanes are reliable and comply with methodologies and quality criteria, at a time when the entire world has questioned the statistics of the Government of Puerto Rico,” the PRSI said.
The island’s fiscal oversight board recently expressed opposition to a consolidation of the institute with other entities as proposed in one of the governor’s reorganization plans, which was later withdrawn from the Legislature for amendment. In a letter, the fiscal board backed the PRSI’s independence.
“The [PRSI] is in a unique position to ensure transparency and accountability and guarantee that Puerto Rico’s statistics are immune from political influence. The [PRSI] was established as an independent and fiscally autonomous entity governed by a Board of Directors,” the fiscal board’s letter reads.