Senator Pushes Bill that Limits Private Treasury Contractor Powers
ARECIBO, Puerto Rico – New Progressive Party Sen. Ángel “Chayanne” Martínez lobbied Saturday for the adoption of a measure that would regulate private companies contracted by the Treasury Department for the use of revenue-collection programs that involve the collection, handling and storage of taxpayer information.
Senate Bill 1389 would establish as public policy that all information collected by private companies for managing the collection of taxes or duties would be owned by the Puerto Rico government.
“It has recently been brought to public attention that the Treasury Department subcontracts with private entities management software used for the collection of taxes. Specifically, it transpired that the collection of the sales and use tax [IVU by its Spanish acronym] at the ports was conducted through private providers who manage the Integrated Merchant Portal [PICO by its Spanish acronym],” the senator said.
He explained that Evertec and Rock Solid Inc. were chosen by the Treasury through an administrative order to manage these systems. “In view of the aforementioned, these private entities would not only be receiving and managing information about Puerto Rico government taxpayers but will store it as well, and that is dangerous,” he added.
The legislative measure also seeks to create a record of contracts with such companies. Among the information the registry would include is the company name, the contract’s term, the contract’s amount, a brief summary of the work to be conducted by the company, and the information it would handle, collect or store.
“Agreements between agencies and private entities are not new to our government system. However, we believe it is important to establish clear parameters to guide the Treasury Department in these kinds of agreements,” he added.
In his view, “not regulating this type of contract could have serious consequences in a sensitive area of our government, as is revenue collection. Therefore, it is our position that the legislative branch must act immediately and issue a clear public policy on the issue,” the politician added.
The senator’s measure would create the “Puerto Rico Government Taxpayer Information Ownership Act,” which has been stuck in the legislative process since May.
“The bill indicates that any private company that refuses to provide the government with access to collected, handled or stored taxpayer information will incur in a misdemeanor charge and, if convicted, will be punished by a term of imprisonment that shall not exceed six months or a fine not exceeding $500, or both penalties, at the discretion of the court, notwithstanding administrative sanctions. One doesn’t play around with taxpayer data,” Martínez warned.
Inter News Service