Suárez ‘Not Worried’ About Audits on Government Contracts and Expenses
SAN JUAN — Víctor Suárez, secretary of the Puerto Rico State Department, welcomed Thursday the audits that Gov.-elect Ricardo Rosselló plans to carry out on any expenses and contracts related to the administration of Gov. Alejandro García Padilla.
“Other governments have done it. We are not worried in the least. If the governor-elect thinks it’s something they should do, they should go ahead with it,” Suárez said when asked by Caribbean Business at a press conference in which he highlighted the State Department’s efforts in starting the government transition process.
Earlier in the day, Rosselló met with García Padilla and asked for transparency during the transition process, as well as access to advisers and government officials capable of providing details about each agency. The governor-elect also indicated that the audit will not affect other processes carried out within the law.
The secretary of State also noted that the agency is ready to begin the transition process Tuesday, Nov. 15. The first step in the process will be a meeting between the technical teams of the incoming and outgoing transition committees, slated for some time during the weekend, to fine-tune details of the process.
“Everybody will have access to the information so the process remains transparent, just like Gov. García Padilla has requested, and like Gov.-elect Roselló has wished. All the agencies in the executive branch have complied with the presentation of their respective transition reports. The State Elections Commission is the only entity that has not complied 100% because of the nature of the process they are working on,” Suárez said.
The official added that the agency heads and advisers to the governor have been notified to remain with updated information and available for meetings with the incoming transition committee, which would be held in parallel to the public hearings.
He also stressed that “we have made all the information available,” despite Rosselló insisting that the government’s fiscal data be made public.
“I think this process will be different because the most pressing matter here is the fiscal issue and this administration has already made all of that information public and the people know the critical situation we are in. It’s just a matter of explaining the numbers, to make them understand them and take it from there,” said Suárez, adding that he expected no “hateful” messages during the process.
The official went on to explain that on the first floor of the State Department building in Old San Juan, the Ramón Power y Giralt wing has been readied for the incoming transition committee, as well as another wing for the outgoing committee. Both rooms include internet access, a conference room, and office material for the corresponding work.
The public hearings related to the transition process will be held in the Arturo Morales Carrión wing and will be transmitted live through the website of WIPR, the government’s TV station, as well as through transicion2016.pr.gov. The latter website will also feature all the information that the 118 government agencies will present to the committees. The website will be available to the public once the transition process formally begins, which by law must start four labor days after the general elections.
A fourth area of the State Department, dubbed the Protocol Room, has also been readied in the building’s second floor so the outgoing committee can answer questions from reporters.