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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Prompt use of federal funds for ferry transit urged, before they’re lost



The funds allocated to the Integrated Transit Authority that have been authorized for reprogramming by the Financial Oversight and Management Board are $9,685 from the fiscal year 2022 budget, $7,112,486 from the 2023 budget, and $27,501,619 from the 2024 budget.

By The Star Staff


The New Progressive Party minority leader in the island House of Representatives, Carlos “Johnny” Méndez Nuñez, urged the use of $34.6 million for improvements in maritime transportation, particularly between Ceiba and the offshore island municipalities of Vieques and Culebra, before those funds are lost.


“Today’s news – about the Financial Oversight and Management Board’s warning to the Integrated Transit Authority [ATI by its Spanish initials] that it will not authorize further extensions in the use of budget funds for fiscal years due to lack of use – is a very clear warning that if they are not used now, we will lose them,” the legislator said. “These funds are for the rehabilitation of vessels, both cargo and passengers, as well as improvements to the Ceiba boat terminal and the Mosquito pier in Vieques. A sense of urgency is required and I hope that action will be taken in that way to avoid the loss of those resources.”


ATI Director Josué Menéndez said in an interview that the reasons for the delay may be “permit issues” and “administrative processes,” among others.


The funds authorized to be reprogrammed by the oversight board are $9,685 from the fiscal year 2022 budget, $7,112,486 from the 2023 budget, and $27,501,619 from the 2024 budget. The work committed with those funds includes the purchase of new systems for the Cayo Blanco ferry, improvements to the design, as well as construction and development work, at the Ceiba boat terminal and the Mosquito dock area, among others.


“The ATI director indicated that the delays, which put these funds in check, may be due to permits, something that we have been warning that urgently needs to be improved for some time,” Méndez Nuñez said. “Other reasons were also given; however, it is important that it be used as the [oversight] board has already said it will not authorize further extensions. The fact that the work does not go out due to bureaucracy is not acceptable to anyone. I join the statements of the mayors of Vieques and Culebra, … who indicate that these projects are needed to improve the quality of life of their residents.”

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