Organizations demand to know how special funds for environmental conservation in PR have been used
By The Star Staff
The Citizen Commission for the Integral Audit of Public Credit, in conjunction with the environmental organization El Puente-Latin American Climate Action Link, filed a special appeal for access to public information requesting to know if special funds for environmental protection might have been transferred to pay bondholders’ debts.
The appeal is in the Court of First Instance of San Juan against the Treasury Department and the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, and judge Anthony Cuevas will see to the matter at hand. The agencies have between 10 and 15 days to respond to the request.
“We are studying the impact that Puerto Rico’s public debt process and the austerity measures adopted during the past 20 years have had on environmental protection on the Island”, said Eva Prados Rodríguez, executive director of the Citizens’ Commission. “We also want to know the government’s capacity to comply with and execute public policies on conservation and environmental protection,” she added.
Federico Cintrón Moscoso, Puente’s program director, added that “as part of our investigation, on May 25, 2022, the Citizens’ Commission requested information from the Treasury Department and the Department of Natural Resources regarding the deposit, management, and transfers of various special funds for environmental conservation. As denounced by several environmental organizations last year, a surplus of special funds was being transferred to a new fund created by the Fiscal Control Board to pay bondholders. This information is crucial to help understand how the fiscal crisis and debt payment impact the conservation and protection of our natural resources.”
“The Treasury Department made partial delivery of the information, and the Department of Natural Resources has not responded to any of our communications, in clear violation of the provisions of the Puerto Rico Transparency Law and the constitutional right of access to public information, which is why we were forced to file this legal recourse,” said Prados Rodríguez.