Recreational projects and contracts are the most wasteful municipal spending in Puerto Rico

by | Sep 15, 2016 | Puerto Rico | Comments

We recently discovered a large gap in spending oversight in the 40 some municipalities in Puerto Rico. Many municipalities are either in debt, or not properly using the resources available to them. Budgets made by the mayors of each municipality are either not adhered to, or not properly overseen by legislation to ensure their practicality.  

While these local governments may plan for projects to benefit their communities, there is often a disconnect between the planning process and the reality of these projects. This includes overspending and increasing debt, as well as a lack of follow up and completion on these projects. Even with funds budgeted for these projects, many often go unfinished or are not of any use to the community to begin with.

There are five specific instances of these incomplete projects highlighted by an oversight board that studied this waste occurring in municipalities. The categories within which these projects were of no use to the communities are activity centers and arenas, contracts, and recreational areas. The amounts spent on these projects and the municipalities within which they occur are all different but there is a common theme of a lack of regulation. The amounts spent on these projects range $718,696 to $20,906,487. These are significant amounts on their own but even more so when one considers that these five instances have many companions across the territory. To further put this in perspective, the top 5 most expensive projects lacking any utility are:

  1. Naranjito, spending $20,906,487 for activity centers and arenas
  2. Culebra, spending $1,765,432 for activity centers and arenas
  3. Ponce, spending $1,511,341 for contracts
  4. Aibonito, spending $939,176 for recreational areas
  5. Las Marias, spending $718,696 for contracts

Again, there are many more examples of large sums of money that follow these top 5, continuing to expose the lack of regulation of municipal projects. No longer can these instances of severe spending with no outcome for the community be abstract, and clearly a greater legislative involvement must occur to eliminate this waste. This is also affecting the larger territory, and therefore the United States, rather than just each individual municipality.

With this consideration, there is no excuse for this issue to not be addressed on both a territorial and country level in order to reduce Puerto Rico’s debt from the municipalities up. Such oversight must, however, be primarily territorial, since the municipalities are autonomous entities within the Puerto Rican government.