House panel votes to free up pandemic-frozen $20 million for nonprofits

By John McPhaul

The House Treasury and Budget Committee, chaired by the Rep. Jesús Santa Rodríguez, approved through a final consideration review or ‘markup session’ on Thursday various resolutions seeking to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the disbursement and use of legislative funds and to extend the tax exemption for non-profit entities affected by the public health emergency.

Legislators approved House Resolution 177, proposed by Santa Rodríguez, which seeks to allocate the amount of $20 million, under the Joint Budget Resolution for fiscal year 2021-2022, with the purpose of providing allocations to semi-public, public and private entities and institutions,

whose activities or services promote the development of social welfare, health, educational and cultural programs, and to improve the quality of life of Puerto Ricans, according to a committee press release.

Meanwhile, House Joint Resolution 182, also endorsed by the committee, proposes to authorize an extension of one year to the validity of the Legislative Funds granted in Joint Resolutions 43-2020 and 44-2020.

According to the statement, during the quarantine process, many government agencies closed for several months and others continued their tasks remotely, which made the process of carrying out the tasks more difficult.

“This process is a relatively complicated one, bearing in mind that after the evaluation, any reassignment or changes in the work to be carried out entails numerous administrative procedures,” Santa Rodríguez said. “It is very important that agencies and municipalities have the necessary time to complete the entire process required to meet the needs of citizens.”

The Treasury and Budget Committee chairman also noted that the extension of funds will help to conclude the use for which they were assigned.

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