The outrageous distribution in the Legislature of more than ten million dollars, taken from the people, for superfluous contracts of dubious relevance, is an affront to thousands of workers and retirees who are imposed sacrifices to balance public finances.
As if they lived in a parallel universe, indifferent to the reality that thousands of citizens suffer, the House of Representatives and the Senate have distributed, in about 180 days, $ 10,323,137 in 806 contracts: $ 6,036,995 in the House and $ 4,286,142 in the Senate.
Out of these agreements, 522 were given to consulting services. At a rate of almost seven contracts for each of the 78 legislators, except for the minorities who had their budget for such purposes reduced. That, without mentioning that each legislator counts with an indefinite amount of employees for diverse tasks. The lack of transparency in the fact that none of the legislative bodies has details about their payroll available on their web sites is dramatic.
At least, it is known that a large part goes to the hands of defeated politicians whose executions, if not pay, did not save the country from its current problems either.
Such is the case, for example, of former Mayor of Toa Baja, Aníbal Vega Borges, whose administration of a town that suffers the attacks of bankruptcy is still under federal investigation. Now he is paid as an administrative advisor to the president of the Senate. The official, who has earned $ 33,000 in the first half of the year, had lost the confidence of his own party voters, not long ago.
From the amount contributed by taxpayers, the Legislature also took in a large number of "retired" former elected officials: former mayor Jorge Santini, former senator Roger Iglesias, former legislators Alba Rivera and Elizabeth Casado; and former representative Edwin Mundo, who has made a career as a contractor paid with public funds since 2007.
Nearly two million dollars were granted in over seventy contracts by the Capitol Superintendency. out of which nearly three-quarters of a million - $ 734,725 - were classified under the ambiguous line of miscellaneous expenses. Moreover, the contract for the Capitol surveillance company, which cost $ 140,000 between February and June, almost quadrupled when a new contract was granted for half a million dollars for the period between July and December.
This is a great contempt to the prudence that every public administrator must observe in view of the fiscal and economic precariousness of the government under federal supervision and in bankruptcy proceedings, and to its unemployed citizens or facing imminent salary and pension reductions.
The indifference of those who were trusted to represent the electorate makes a mockery of the retirees who juggle every month when they have to choose between paying for poor governmental services, going to the doctor or buying medicine that would save them from death. Or the workers who support their families with a tiny percentage of what the Legislature separates for its protégés.
With such a misuse, the Legislature reveals itself in what it has become: an insensitive microcosm of the resistance to change that makes public institutions collapse. Unfortunately it is also a reflection of the country, in particular of the electorate, which, although slapped, insists on choosing and justifying these partisan opportunism.
Given the debt renegotiation processes carried under Title III of the PROMESA law, over which the government claims insolvency, the lack of coherence in its actions undermines its credibility. They also reveal how and why Puerto Rico got to where it is today. They also highlight a political class that does no longer serve Puerto Rico.
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