Comptroller finds deficiencies in Aguada bidding process
By John McPhaul
The Comptroller of Puerto Rico on Tuesday issued a qualified opinion of the fiscal operations of the Municipality of Aguada, revealing that the town’s Auction Board awarded the acquisition of diesel to a bidder that did not meet the auction specifications.
The bidder established in its proposal a profit margin based on the price reported by the wholesaler to the Department of Consumer Affairs, instead of based on the price paid to the wholesaler. The situation caused the municipality to pay the supplier $6,307 in excess, the comptroller said in the opinion.
In addition, the three acting pre-interveners who examined some 14 disbursement receipts issued in 2019 did not ensure that the bidder’s invoices included evidence of the cost of the diesel purchased from the wholesaler. This situation, which ran contrary to the Regulations for Municipal Administration, prevented verifying the correctness and propriety of the disbursements.
The audit of five findings indicates that, as of Dec. 31, 2020, the municipality owed $890,817 to the Department of Labor and Human Resources (DTRH by its Spanish initials), the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, and the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority. That situation led to the payment of interest, penalties and surcharges for $14,996 on the debt to the DTRH, compromising the resources of government entities.
Contrary to current laws and regulations, the contract for the administration of the Jardines de Aguada housing complex, of which the municipality is the owner, was not submitted for consideration by the Municipal Assembly, nor to the Comptroller’s Office. In addition, as of Oct. 9, 2020, the Internal Audit Unit had not audited nor monitored the operations of the housing complex. A similar situation had been commented on in the Audit Report M-19-19 of Dec. 13, 2018.
The auditors identified deficiencies in the distribution of 5,541 general admission tickets and 161 season tickets to attend basketball games. The municipality had signed two contracts with the Superior Basketball League for free use of Ismael “Chavalillo” Delgado Coliseum, in exchange for providing box tickets and courtesy tickets. As of July 27, 2020, the former mayor certified that they did not have a record of the distribution of tickets.