Alleged irregularities in the Treasury Department must be thoroughly and promptly investigated in order to eliminate any failure in an agency that is crucial on the road to fiscal stability and also, if there were evidence that a crime was committed, to hold those responsible accountable.
The role of the Treasury -tax collector, oversight and administrator- calls for a model of neatness and efficiency. Especially at a time when disaster relief funds and recovering the markets trust largely depend on transparency in the government.
While authorities investigate, governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares should send his cabinet, the people of Puerto Rico and the United States a clear message that he will not accept due process violations. If there were any, they should be immediately rectified.
Since the resignation of Treasury Secretary Teresita Fuentes -a certified public accountant- on January 25, Puerto Rico has been shocked by reports on alleged inside dealings and questionable contracts in that agency.
These allegations come amid the tax season, just when taxpayers need to trust that their contributions on income will be responsibly used.
Raúl Maldonado, reappointed to the Treasury, has been questioned and that calls for clear explanations.
And those explanations include circumstances surrounding the hiring of companies created shortly after the PNP´s victory in 2016, that later subcontracted Maldonado´s son. The governor has reiterated his support to Maldonado, who he reappointed to the Treasury.
Meanwhile, there are versions of alleged fraud with the sale of stamps and Treasury bills that, if verified, will represent a blow to the revenue collection system and a fierce attack on the credibility of an agency that certifies and endorses dozens of procedures, essential documents, property deeds, contracts and different records and registries, among others.
Puerto Rico cannot afford to have such a crucial fiscal agency joining dysfunction. The mistrust of the federal government -that imposes strict requirements- is a strong factor for delays in the release of recovery funds.
Today, the island´s fiscal rudder is in the hands of a fiscal board established by Congress –through PROMESA- largely due to the lack of prudence and proper controls that led to the island´s indebtedness.
Disregarding basic ethical and sound administration principles resulted in the fiscal chaos that has locked Puerto Rico out of capital markets.
We trust that investigations conducted by federal authorities, the Department of Justice and the Government Ethics Office into alleged irregularities in the Treasury Department will soon clarify the facts and prove compliance with laws and regulations.
If they found that people´s trust was betrayed and public resources were misused, then those responsible for that should be met with the full force of the law.
Puerto Rico has to take the road to a culture of sound administration in line with transparency and accountability.
The results of the investigations should also lead the Legislative Assembly and public agencies to put an end to those actions that hide behind legal excuses and hurt people´s integrity and moral values.