(GFR Media)

The budget for next fiscal year that the Government has yet to disclose claiming it’s still a “working document” adheres strictly to the plan approved by the Oversight Board (OB), announced yesterday the secretary of Public Affairs in La Fortaleza, Ramón Rosario Cortés. 

Also, the official said that, between this week or next, they will submit to the Legislative Assembly  the tax reform bill, a cornerstone to underpin both the fiscal plan and the budget.

“There isn’t anything new that’s not in the fiscal plan. That budget is a reflection of the fiscal plan that ensures adjustments are made where needed, to have additional revenues where required to ensure the continuity in government functions, and to guarantee that we can pay all our civil servants and avoid job losses. The budget reflects what was approved in the fiscal plan,” pointed out Rosario Cortés, who today will provide details on the Executive’s projects the Legislative Assembly has addressed and those currently being considered.

Rosario Cortés defended governor Ricardo Rosselló from not making public the contents of the budget he sent to the OB last week, with a report on liquidity and the savings required from the government. “The budget is still a draft in a process in which the Board and the government of Puerto Rico make adjustments and evaluations and, once it is shaped into its final version, it will be submitted to the Legislative Assembly where it will undergo a public hearings process as it’s always been done,” he said.

“Every governor has worked with draft budgets that were not final. They weren’t published because they are draft budgets and not final. The same procedure applies today: drafts among all these agencies with just one more element which is the OB because of PROMESA,” he said.

For the time being, he noted, “the Board and the government of Puerto Rico are making adjustments and evaluations” to the budget, while the tax reform bill is about to reach the Capitol. “The secretary of the Treasury Department, (Raúl Maldonado), has held meetings with the governor to put the finishing touches in terms of public policy. We expect to have a draft by this week or next to take to the Legislature,” he said.

Maldonado has assured that the pillars of this tax reform will mean relief to the tax payer and  serve as mechanisms to avoid tax evasion.

The government has already taken steps that should supplement the tax reform and the budget. For example, the extension of the excise tax on foreign companies and the collection of Sales and Use Tax on internet-based transactions. Similarly, increases were approved for the excise tax on tobacco by-products, fines (10%), drivers’ license (10%), and government health insurance premiums (5%).

According to the fiscal plan, these initiatives represent an additional $924 million for the Department of the Treasury.

Rosario Cortés said there will be enough time to evaluate the budget in the Legislature.

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