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Bishop: GAO Report Highlights Drivers of Puerto Rico Debt Crisis, Island’s Ongoing Lack of Transparency


WASHINGTON, D.C., May 9, 2018 -

Today, House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) issued the following statement in reaction to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report highlighting factors contributing to the debt crisis in Puerto Rico and the systemic lack of accountability and transparency across the territorial government.  

“From highlighting the stifling debt to identifying the systemic financial malpractice of the Puerto Rico government over the past half-century, the GAO report reiterates why Congress passed PROMESA two years ago. The island will recover as leaders take to heart the seriousness of these problems. Reform is possible as the governor and legislature work alongside the Oversight Board to achieve structural and financial reformation. The people of Puerto Rico deserve as much.  While I remain committed to ensure full disaster recovery and all steps necessary to long-term economic stability, the government of Puerto Rico must fulfill its responsibility to provide all requested information and commit to working with the Oversight Board on the path to economic recovery. The findings of the GAO report will help inform this process.”

Background:

In response to Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis, Congress passed on a bipartisan basis the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) in 2016, which included a provision for GAO to review Puerto Rico’s debt.

According to the report, financial mismanagement, inadequate internal controls, politically motivated policy decisions, inconsistent and politically motivated tax and revenue collection, excessive borrowing, and prolonged economic contraction led to Puerto Rico’s persistent deficits.

GAO requested information from Puerto Rico officials concerning progress made toward addressing contributing factors within the Governor’s immediate control and discretion.  “However, they did not provide us this information,” according to the report.

Click here to read the full report.

Committee Action Addressing Puerto Rico’s Crisis and Recovery:

On May 4, Bishop held a press conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico with Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón (R-Puerto Rico) to assert his full support for Puerto Rico’s recovery effort and to establish a responsible, bipartisan path toward statehood.

On March 29, Bishop sent a letter to the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico (created by PROMESA) for inaction on Puerto Rico’s needed revised fiscal plans.

On March 12, Bishop sent a letter to PREPA Interim Executive Director, Justo Gonzalez concerning allegations of corruption by government officials.

On November 15, Bishop sent a letter to PREPA requesting documents on controversial contracting following the hurricanes and questioning the government's ability to competently negotiate, manage, and implement infrastructure rebuilding without significant independent oversight.

On November 14, the Committee held an oversight hearing, The Need for Transparent Financial Accountability in Territories' Disaster Recovery Efforts.

On November 7, the Committee held an oversight hearing, Examining Challenges in Puerto Rico's Recovery and the Role of the Financial Oversight and Management Board.

On November 1, Bishop met with the Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello.

On October 30, Bishop, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Rep. González-Colón and other members joined a bipartisan CODEL to Puerto Rico to assess hurricane damage and pledge full support of the federal government for recovery and rebuilding operations. 

On October 17, Bishop sent a letter to FEMA Administrator William B. “Brock” Long and FBI Director Christopher Wray concerning allegations of mishandling and misappropriation of emergency supplies provided by the federal government for the people of Puerto Rico by local government officials.

On October 4, the Committee held a Member’s forum with Rep. González-Colón as well as Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-Virgin Islands) to provide the first comprehensive look at damage and recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) following Hurricanes Irma and Maria.


Contact: Committee Press Office 202-226-9019

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