Oversight board to hold public meeting Tuesday

By The Star Staff

The Financial Oversight and Management Board announced over the weekend that it will hold its 20th public board meeting on Tuesday to discuss Puerto Rico’s audited financial statements, both in the context of ensuring urgent issuance of delayed audits and timely issuance of current audits, while reviewing the audit service quality of BDO Puerto Rico, as requested by members of Congress after allegations were made last summer against the firm’s former managing partner.

The oversight board had asked the commonwealth government during its public meeting on July 1 to present a plan for how the government intends to complete the significantly delayed annual reports for fiscal years 2017, 2018 and 2019, while ensuring the issuance of the 2020 audit on a timely basis. The island Treasury Department has since submitted an outline of its plan, which the oversight board is reviewing. The members of the board invited the Treasury secretary to discuss the government’s plan during the public meeting. The government’s proposal will be available on the oversight board’s website,

“It is alarming that these financial reports have not been completed despite efforts made to date by several treasury secretaries, and the Oversight Board would like to thank Secretary Francisco Parés Alicea for submitting the Government’s proposal for discussion,” said Oversight Board Executive Director Natalie Jaresko. “The Oversight Board has been patient in light of the many disasters that required the Government’s full and primary attention. Nonetheless, the Oversight Board has pressed for process changes, for more.

accountability, and for more urgency. Puerto Rico will not regain access to the capital markets if its Government cannot provide timely audited financial statements, thus, it will be unable to meet the mandate of PROMESA [the federal Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act].”

Regarding BDO, the oversight board announced recently that an evaluation of the firm’s audits of commonwealth agencies did not violate any ethical rules. The evaluation was done after a top executive from BDO was arrested along with former heads of Education and health agencies on corruption charges. During Tuesday’s public meeting, the oversight board will respond to the government’s plan and outline its recommendations to enable compliance with the task of completing the issuance of delayed audits within a year and enabling the issuance of audits for fiscal years 2020 and 2021 on a timely basis.

The oversight board also said in a statement that it will present a fact-based, apolitical report on the opportunity to bring pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing to Puerto Rico in light of national concerns regarding supply chain security. The oversight board commissioned a report about a month ago as discussions in Congress began with regard to legislation that might influence companies to return or expand manufacturing in the United States.

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