Reps. José Serrano (D-NY) and Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) have written a letter to Puerto Rico’s PROMESA Financial Oversight Board, demanding greater transparency and better stewardship of public funds.
“It has come to our attention,” the New York representatives wrote, “that the Oversight Board has spent over $30 million—which comes from Puerto Rican taxpayers—for salaries, equipment, and services during its first year of operations. At a time when the government of Puerto Rico and its people have had to endure financial sacrifices, it is incumbent upon the Board to do the same and lead by example.”
Specific demands made in the letter:
- The Board should provide a specific breakdown of all expenditures, in a document sent to Congress and made available to the public. The letter stated that “it is necessary for the Board to provide Congress and the public a detailed account and specific breakdown of all expenses incurred to date. This breakdown should detail all salaries, reimbursements, equipment purchases, and contracts incurred by the Board in a detailed, accessible, and comprehensive manner.”
- The Board should have a CFO to make sure that the Board operates efficiently.
- All goods and services paid for by the board should have competing bids, “in line with Federal contracting standards.”
- The Board should be audited annually.
The pair wrote to the oversight board on May 11 expressing concern that the board went “too far with the imposed austerity measures.” The new letter says that their views as expressed in the earlier letter “remain unchanged.”
The letter says that the steps called for “will help the Board maintain support for its mission in Puerto Rico from both the federal government and the people of Puerto Rico.”
The Board has been criticized by Forbes (for its failure to produce transparent, realistic budget documents), by Open Spaces (for lack of transparency about their own finances), and by residents of Puerto Rico for excessive austerity demands and a colonial attitude.