Fiscal board sets deadline for turning over of data on PREPA worker transfers
By The Star Staff
The Financial Oversight and Management Board gave Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (AAFAF by its Spanish initials) until Sept. 17 to turn over information related to the mobility plan for former Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) workers transferred to other agencies.
The letter dated Sept. 3 came after AAFAF Executive Director Omar Marrero sought an extension to turn over the information, which was supposed to have been submitted to the Board on Aug. 24. It gave AAFAF until Sept. 15 to turn over information related to pensions.
The letter did not say what the oversight board will do regarding problems with the mobility of PREPA employees who declined to work for LUMA Energy, the private operator that took over control of PREPA’s transmission and distribution system and customer service division on June 1.
Most of the PREPA workers who were transferred to other agencies remain in a limbo, in part because some agencies do not have the money or equipment to absorb them, according to testimony at a House Treasury and Budget Committee hearing last week.
The transfer of thousands of former PREPA employees to other government agencies is slated to cost the government more than $200 million annually, according to a report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).
The PREPA workers left for other agencies instead of moving to LUMA Energy to avoid losing acquired benefits, including accumulated pensions. But their fate is still uncertain. Many have yet to begin work at the other agencies.
The oversight board also gave the Puerto Rico government until Sept. 30 and Oct. 22 to submit certain financial information related to the closing of the books for fiscal year (FY) 2021, which ended June 30.
In an Aug. 31 letter sent by the board’s executive director, Natalie Jaresko, to Deputy Treasury Secretary Ángel L. Pantoja-Rodríguez, the board said it was approving an extension of 32 days for the completion of the invoice, payment and accounting process related to the closing of the books for FY 2021.
That extension ends on Sept. 30.
“In addition, we authorize the extension of the deadline for the submission of the certifications required by Section 12 and Section 8 of the FY21 certified budget resolution for general fund and special funds, respectively, until October 22,” the letter said.
Separately, the oversight board in a letter dated Sept. 1 gave the Treasury Department instructions to submit copies of the 2017 and 2018 management letters as issued by the island’s auditor KPMG by this Friday, Sept. 10.
“We write in relation to the actions taken by the government to address the internal control deficiencies identified by KPMG as part of the FY16 audit process,” the letter says. “The FOMB understands that much progress has been made to address the internal control issues identified by KPMG. However, we have identified that several of the responses do not fully explain how the actions taken resulted in addressing the deficiency identified by the auditors.”
The oversight board recommended, as a matter of best practices, that the commonwealth request a draft management letter from the auditor prior to its issuance, so that it has a chance to comment on the deficiencies listed by the auditor, and that the final version of the management letter issued takes into account the comments from management.
The board also recommended that the audit management letters be made public, either as part of the annual financial statements or as a separate document.
Finally, the oversight board requested copies of the 2017 and 2018 management letters as issued by KPMG by Friday.