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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Gov’t fiscal team expects $13 billion in revenues next year

Acting Treasury Secretary Nelson Pérez Méndez makes a point during Thursday’s budget hearings at the island Capitol. (Tammy Olivencia)

By The Star Staff

The island government expects some $13 billion in revenues for the next fiscal year (FY), which starts July 1, and will use the funds in priority areas such as education, social reconstruction, older adults, infrastructure maintenance and municipalities, officials said during budget hearings on Thursday.

The House Treasury Committee, chaired by Rep. Jesús Santa Rodríguez, began budget hearings for FY 2024-2025 by listening to the government’s economic cabinet.

In a presentation, Office of Management and Budget Director Juan Carlos Blanco Urrutia​, Acting Treasury Secretary Nelson Pérez Méndez and Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority Executive Director Omar Marrero Díaz indicated that, from an operational point of view, they do not foresee major variations in government entities’ budgets.

The fiscal team confirmed that the public policy priority areas for the next budget focus on education, social reconstruction, older adults, infrastructure maintenance, municipalities and the post-disaster reconstruction of the island.

‘’The executive branch’s fiscal group will continue to redefine its role in the current historical context, seeking policies and processes that facilitate budget planning and strengthen government execution,” Pérez Méndez said. “Our responsibility now is to pave the way toward a post-PROMESA [Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act] government.”

‘’After getting our finances in order and completing the debt restructuring, we are committed to the responsible reconstruction of government operations,” the acting Treasury chief added. “The challenge lies in resolving the fiscal problems for the departure of the Financial Oversight and Management Board, and in making these changes permanent and sustainable. We agree that we must continue strengthening government operations to improve the quality of management of public services by the different public sector entities. We are betting on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2024-2025 as a comprehensive instrument of social and fiscal reconstruction.”

The document would be the fourth balanced budget to be approved since PROMESA went into effect and after restructuring the central government’s debt through Law 53-2021, known as the “Law to End Puerto Rico’s Bankruptcy.”

Public hearings will continue next Tuesday with the departments of Natural & Environmental Resources and Agriculture, and the Land Authority, deposing. For next Thursday the committee has cited the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) and the State Elections Commission, and on March 19, lawmakers will hear from officials in the Department of Health and all agencies under its umbrella.

The hearings will continue on April 4 with the Department of Transportation and Public Works and the Highways and Transportation Authority; on April 9 with the Department of Public Safety and its bureaus; and on April 11 with the Department of Economic Development and Commerce, the Tourism Company and the General Services Administration.

On May 7, the Family Department and all the agencies under its jurisdiction will appear before the House panel, followed on May 9 by the departments of Justice and Corrections & Rehabilitation, and the Institute of Forensic Sciences.

‘’We have a robust work plan to approve the budget at the beginning of June, emphasizing making correct revenue projections, both in the short and long term, along with making decisions that benefit all citizens in Puerto Rico, taking as a “priority our older adults, education, the UPR and the municipalities,” Santa Rodríguez said.

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