Puerto Rico may issue delayed audited 2014 statements in April

Puerto Rico's Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla addresses the media after a meeting with U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew (not pictured) in San Juan, Puerto Rico, January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Alvin Baez

Puerto Rico’s Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla addresses the media after a meeting with U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew (not pictured) in San Juan, Puerto Rico, January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Alvin Baez

REUTERS NEW YORK/SAN JUAN | BY MEGAN DAVIES AND NICK BROWN – Puerto Rico’s much-delayed audited financial statements for 2014 are expected to be finished and issued by April, the U.S. territory’s governor said in a letter to U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan on Monday.

The delay in completing the statements is due to the “complexities posed by our current financial crisis,” Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla said in the letter, emailed by a representative for the commonwealth.

However, he added that there may be additional issues that arise that require an “adjustment to such timetable.” A draft of the financials, which cited “substantial doubt” about the government’s ability to continue as a going concern, was released last week, but did not include data from some agencies and has not been approved by auditors at KPMG.

The letter follows criticism from Republicans in Congress over the delay and a perceived lack of financial transparency from Puerto Rico. The island’s leaders are hoping for legislative help from Congress in tackling its $70 billion in debt, 45 percent poverty rate and dwindling population as locals flock to the mainland United States. Ryan has called on the Republican-led House to propose legislation by the end of March aimed at addressing Puerto Rico.

In Monday’s letter, Garcia Padilla gave a sense of what it might look like on the island if the government or its agencies failed to survive as going concerns — that is, became unable to meet financial obligations long term.

Entities subject to going concern assessments, Garcia Padilla wrote, include not only the government itself, but PREPA, the island’s sole power utility; HTA, which operates the island’s major roads; the Metropolitan Bus Authority, which transports thousands in the San Juan area; the Puerto Rico Medical Services Administration, the island’s main hospital and trauma center; and PRIHA, which oversees Medicaid benefits for 1.6 million poor residents.

Garcia Padilla also stressed that the Government Development Bank, Puerto Rico’s primary fiscal agent, may not be able to make debt payments in the last quarter of fiscal year 2016, and that the island may have to pass emergency legislation imposing a moratorium on GDB debt payments.

(Reporting by Megan Davies in New York and Nick Brown in San Juan; Editing by Diane Craft and Lisa Shumaker)

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