Para ver esta página en español, oprima aquí.

AAV: End Freed ‘Independentistas’ Supervision… Rum Tax Threatened By 37% Cut… Bill Would End Public Campaign Financing… NPP Threatens Court Action To Get PRIIF Investigator To Testify… Rossello’s Certification Challenged… Calderon Lobbyist’s Got $16m… ‘04 Election Cost $168m, Parties In Debt… Toledo, Fortuño To Find Funds For Police

Gov. Supports End Of Supervision For Freed ‘Independentistas’

February 2, 2005
Copyright © 2005 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila said he feels the Conditional Freedom Committee will end the supervision of the former ‘Independentista’ prisoners whose sentences were commuted in 1999 by then-President Bill Clinton.

Acevedo Vila made his statements in a letter requested by a lawyer for the former prisoners, Jan Susler, as part of the hearings held in San Juan by the U.S. Conditional Freedom Committee to decide about the motion to end the supervision.

"The above-mentioned prisoners must not be subject to supervision due to the commutation of their sentences. They have had productive lives since they were freed," Acevedo Vila said in a statement from La Fortaleza.

According to the press reports, the request to end supervision applies to former prisoners Edwin Cortes, Elizam Escobar, Ricardo Jimenez, Adolfo Matos, Dylcia Pagan, Alberto Rodriguez, Ida Luz Rodriguez, Alejandrina Torres and Carmen Valentin.

Congressional Proposal Would Cut Rum Tax By 37%

February 1, 2005
Copyright © 2005 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – A proposal by the federal Joint Committee on Taxation could reduce the imported rum tax by 37 percent, which would reduce by $140 million the money earned each year by the Puerto Rico General Fund.

Resident Commissioner Luis Fortuño said he was concerned, but hoped the measure would not pass. The director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, Eduardo Bhatia, said the proposal would not be successful in Congress.

"Everything that is a special program runs the risk of being eliminated. In the past, there have been this type of proposals and they have not succeeded," Fortuño said, according to press reports.

The measure would reduce the tax on imported rum and other alcoholic beverages from $13.50 to $8.40. Until December 2005, Puerto Rico gets a reimbursement of $13.25 for each gallon of rum that enters the United States, equaling $382 million a year.

Varela Bill Would Eliminate Public Financing For Campaigns

February 1, 2005
Copyright © 2005 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – With the intent to reduce government expenses, PDP legislator Jose Varela on Tuesday filed a bill that would eliminate the public fund for political campaign financing.

The existing electoral law allows the parties to receive up to $3 million from the government, if they match the money.

In the last election, the government spent $17 million.

"What I propose is to avoid the government continuing to maintain the political parties when it is questioning spending on publicity," he said at a press conference.

The legislator said, however, that the savings would only be seen in an election year.

NPP Threatens Court Action To Get PRIIF Investigator To Testify

February 1, 2005
Copyright © 2005 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Nilsa Garcia, the House investigator of the Puerto Rico Industrial Incentives Fund (PRIIF) last term, said she has reservations about revealing confidential information in public hearings that the new NPP majority is holding about the investigation.

"As I do not know the motives for the investigation it worries me to reveal confidential information in an executive hearing," Garcia said to a local newspaper.

The president of the House Treasury Committee, Antonio Silva, said if Garcia refuses to divulge information, he will turn to the court system.

"Garcia can not retain information obtained while working under a contract for the Legislative Assembly. If she refuses, it will force me to go to the courts," the NPP representative said.

Rossello’s Certification As Senator Will Be Challenged

January 31, 2005
Copyright © 2005 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The lawyer for former legislator Angel "Calvin" Tirado, Manuel Suarez, said Monday that he will challenge the certification issued by the State Elections Commission, recognizing Pedro Rossello as the senator for the district of Arecibo.

Suarez said the challenge will be based on his allegation that the former governor did not fulfill Constitutional residency requirements for a senator.

The same claim is one of the causes for action that remains pending before Judge Carlos Davila in the lawsuit filed by Tirado. The judge is expected to continue the hearing Friday.

The Constitution requires two years of residency for every candidate to a legislative post, and they must be living in the district they intend to represent.

Lobbying Bills From Calderon Term Hit $16 Million

January 31, 2005
Copyright © 2005 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The lobbying and public relations of the administration of former governor Sila M. Calderon in Washington, D.C., cost the island $16.3 million, according to contracts awarded during that period.

Of that figure, $14 million paid lobbying firms to promote economic and education initiatives; exercise pressure in favor of ending Navy operations on Vieques; and routine communications with the White House, Congress, and other federal offices.

According to a newspaper, the offices of the Puerto Rican government still have not specified the expenses for the last year and a half, which is why the figures came from the contracts.

From January to June 2001, the contracts exceeded $1.84 million; from July 2001 to June 2002, $3.67 million; from July 2002 to June 2003, $4.54 million, from July 2003 to June 2004, $4.92 million; and from July to December 2004, $1.34 million.

Past Election Cycle Cost $168 Million

January 31, 2005
Copyright © 2005 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The past election cycle, which began in 2001, cost the island some $168 million, including the budget for the State Elections Commission (SEC) and the money from the Electoral Fund and the Voluntary Fund assigned to the parties.

The press said Monday that the figure includes allocations to the parties for their operation and campaign expenses, money reserved for the operation of the SEC, funds for the Board of Permanent Inscription and salaries for public employees.

During the past electoral cycle, the Voluntary Fund for the Financing of Political Campaigns was put into place, which provided nearly $11 million for each party.

Economist Jose Alameda said that with only $120 million of the total $168 million spent on the election process, the government could have bought 2,667,000 prescriptions or hired 9,500 public employees with basic salary.

Political Parties Have Millions In Debt

January 31, 2005
Copyright © 2005 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The New Progressive Party has a debt of more than $3.5 million, the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) has more than $1 million, and the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) has a debt of $46,300, according to financial reports submitted to the State Elections Commission.

According to media reports, the main parties, the NPP and PDP, have not updated their financial reports.

As of August 2004, the NPP’s certified debt was $3.68 million. The party’s debt is with charges to the Voluntary Fund and concerns the party, not the candidate.

The PDP’s certified debt as of December 2003 was $1.01 million between the candidate and the party.

The debts of the NPP and the PDP could be higher, taking into account that the financial reports are not updates, and do not include the last phase of the election campaign.

Self-Determination Legislation | Puerto Rico Herald Home
Newsstand | Puerto Rico | U.S. Government | Archives
Search | Mailing List | Contact Us | Feedback