Differences between the Oversight Board and the Wanda Vázquez Garced administration seem more evident than ever, now that the Board insists on having information on the use of funds allocated to the address the coronavirus emergency.
After two weeks ago, the Board urged the government to distribute the funds it had available rather than seek approvals for new stimulus packages, the Board's Executive Director Natalie Jaresko wrote to the executive director of the Fiscal Agency & Financial Advisory Authority (FAFAA), Omar Marrero, to insist on being regularly informed of the use of the funds allocated to address the pandemic.
In a letter dated May 1, Jaresko indicated to Marrero that not complying with the bi-weekly reports regarding the use of funds to deal with COVID-19 and the related purchase processes would be a violation of PROMESA.
"There is no objection to providing the data," Marrero said to questions from El Nuevo Día.
According to Marrero, who indicated that he is not in favor of making public the letters he sends the Board, the government has no objection to providing information, but he stressed that PROMESA does not give the Board authority to question the use of federal funds allocated to the island.
Despite the objections, FAFAA sent the report to the Board.
As of May 4, almost six weeks after the economic stimulus package was approved, the government had spent some $286.5 million of the $786 million economic plan approved by the Board.
In addition to the funds allocated in the current budget, Puerto Rico received some $2.2 billion through the Coronavirus Aid Relief & Economic Stability (CARES) Act.
The government and the Board have disagreed because the deal with the constitutional bondholders does not improve the conditions of pensioners and because of the solution that municipalities need after the repeal of Law 29-2019.
In her letter, Jaresko sought to deny that Marrero had written to her in a letter objecting to the reports. This, stating that the request for information does not affect the implementation of any federal plan or program and that the compilation of such data is a responsibility of the government's Chief Financial Officer (CFO), a position Marrero holds.
Marrero explained to El Nuevo Día that currently, the government cannot inform the Board what it has done with the $2.2 billion allocated through the CARES Act, because they are still in talks with the U.S. Treasury to ensure the proper use of the funds.
"We have no objection, but it is a matter of timing," Marrero said.