The Puerto Rico Financial Institutions and Insurance commissioners defended their respective budgets during a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee Monday, when they requested $15.2 million and $10.8 million, to run their respective agencies.
During his testimony, Office of Financial Institutions Commissioner Rafael Blanco said the consolidated $15.2 million budget his agency requested is $840,738 lower than the budget for fiscal 2013 that ends June 30.
In his presentation, Blanco noted that Puerto Rico’s banking sector has gained its footing since 2010, when three failing banks — Westernbank, RG Premier Bank and Eurobank — closed and sold to Banco Popular, Scotiabank and Oriental Bank, respectively, through transactions overseen by the Federal Deposit Insurance Co.
“Overall, I would say that the remaining banking sector, after the disappearance of the three entities in 2010, is a strengthened banking sector in terms of capital,” Blanco told lawmakers. “The banking sector has handled itself very well and I’m optimistic about its progress, which is a recovery process.”
Meanwhile, Insurance Commissioner Angela Weyne justified her agency’s $10.8 million budget for fiscal 2014, saying it will be distributed differently than the prior year to be able to meet with current obligations.
“The Office will develop the Puerto Rico International Insurance Center as its flagship project this year,” Weyne said. “The center is designed to integrate the island into the global financial markets and bring specialized insurance and reinsurance of varied, risk-based capital business.”
She also noted that because Law 3 of 2013 — related to the overhaul of the Commonwealth Retirement System — will have an impact of $500,000 on her agency’s payroll, “we’ve considered assigning that line item $500,000 from the professional and consulting services line.”
She said the law will eliminate about 10 percent of the agency’s staff, which “will be hard to replace.”