The agreements for $ 40 million to which the Health Department (DS) reached out to 313 LLC and Apex General Contractors for the purchase of rapid tests that could be illegal, said the executive director of the Fiscal Oversight Board (JSF), Natalie Jaresko.
“A legal analysis of the agreements in question can conclude that they are null and void from the start”, the executive director pointed out in a letter addressed today to Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced.
“As such, these agreements should be canceled, provided they have not already been, and you must request the immediate reimbursement of all public funds disbursed in connection with them,” he said.
El Nuevo Día revealed on Sunday night that the government committed more than $ 40 million in purchases of rapid tests to detect the disease to companies with no experience in handling medical products and overpricing, but with close ties to the New Progressive Party (PNP). ).
The letter shows that the JSF learned of the contracts with 313 LLC and Apex General Contractors through press reports. The federal entity indicated that the executive order that the governor signed on March 16 requires that any contract executed pursuant to said order must be presented to the Supervisory Board on the date of execution, but the government did not comply with it.
In the communication, the Board reminds the Governor that said federal entity established and maintains a contract review policy in accordance with Section 204 (b) (2) of the PROMESA Law, which requires the government to require the Board the prior approval of certain contracts to ensure that “they promote competition in the market” and “are not incompatible with the approved fiscal plan”, which said body refers to as public policy.
In the Apex case, the government agreed on March 26 to pay $ 38 million for a million rapid tests, and prepaid $ 19 million. On Friday, Health Secretary Lorenzo González ordered to cancel the order, and required the return of the deposit, because the tests did not have the endorsement of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The refund was made today, the government confirmed to this medium.
“All government contracts and their amendments with an added value of $ 10 million or more are subject to prior approval by the Supervisory Board in accordance with public policy. Despite all of the above, the government did not submit agreements to purchase the aforementioned rapid test kits to the Supervisory Board. ”Jaresko said.
In addition to the Apex deal, on March 20 and 24, 313 LLC sold 1,500 pieces of evidence for $ 45 each and 100,000 pieces of evidence for $ 36 each, for a total of $ 3.6 million, according to invoices released by TV news journalist Nuria. Sebazco.
“The agreements in question do not appear to comply with PROMESA and the processes by which they were acquired do not appear to be consistent with the internal controls, efficiency, and benchmarks of fiscal responsibility that should guide the acquisition of products and services by the government. during the state of emergency, “said Jarezko.
The Executive Director of the Board reiterated that these elements of the procurement process are “particularly critical” during a state of emergency to ensure that critical resources are used efficiently and effectively.
“This state of emergency presents no reason to ignore fiscal governance, accountability, and internal controls. Rather, it is especially during these moments that the Government must continue adhering to these principles to build and maintain the confidence of all those interested in the Commonwealth, “the letter maintains.
The JSF asked the governor to confirm on or before April 8, 2020, that the Government canceled these agreements and that the corresponding public funds have been reimbursed to the emergency fund.