The San Juan Daily Star
Governor: $1 million disbursements to towns held up by AAFAF certification required by fiscal board
By The Star Staff
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia acknowledged Monday that the central government has not yet disbursed the $1 million identified in a recent law that he signed to meet expenses incurred by each municipal government associated with the passage of Hurricane Fiona.
He said the delay in disbursing the funds is because the Puerto Rico Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (AAFAF by its Spanish initials) must issue a certification required by the Financial Oversight and Management Board.
Villalba Mayor Luis Javier Hernández Ortiz made a complaint about the undisbursed funds over the weekend.
“We are in a process with the [oversight] board,” Pierluisi told the press. “The board is evaluating the legislation and I understand that already the certification … we can confirm that the legislation is not inconsistent with the Fiscal Plan.”
The governor insisted that there is good communication with the oversight board.
“What we don’t want is to end up in court,” he said. “We want to convince the board that it is a good step.”
As previously reported by the STAR, Hernández Ortiz recently called on Pierluisi to comply with the promise to finally allocate $1 million to each municipality to meet part of the expenses and commitments made after the passage of Hurricane Fiona last year.
“Recall that on November 15, 2022, the Senate approved, on the last day of the legislative work of the fourth regular session, House Joint Resolution 387 to allocate to the ‘Municipal Emergency Assistance Fund’ the sum of $78,000,000 for the municipalities of the country, at a rate of $1 million for each town, to cover expenses related to the response and recovery after Hurricane Fiona,” the Villalba mayor said. “On January 5, 2023, Pierluisi signed RCC 387 into law. More than a month later, that allocation has not been made, and the 78 municipalities are waiting.”
Hernández Ortiz pointed out that the municipalities need the allocation to be able to finish the current fiscal year without problems.
“It is recognized by all components of local and federal government that municipalities have been led into a fiscal crisis following the elimination of the Equalization Fund,” he said. “During the emergency of Hurricane Fiona we had to take out where there was none to address the situation and fulfill our obligation to the communities.”