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P.R. Institute of Statistics seeks injunction against board appointments

The Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics is seeking an injunction and declaratory judgment from the San Juan Superior Court challenging the validity of a number of board appointments Gov. Ricardo Rosselló made in late November 2018.

The appointments casts doubt on
the Institute’s independent criteria and the knowledge and expertise required
for Board members to exercise their duties in accordance with the Institute’s law,
it stated.

The San Juan Superior Court has
set a hearing date of Jan. 31 to review the petition.

Specifically, the Institute
claims the Law, in its Article 7, states that the Institute’s Board of
Directors is composed of “six people of recognized personal and
professional integrity, objectivity and competence in any of the fields of
statistics, economics and planning, as well as a government official.”

In late November 2018, the governor
appointed a second government official to the Board of Directors — Economic
Development and Commerce Secretary Manuel Laboy. However, in July 2017 the governor
had appointed Alex López-Echegaray as a board member.

Because López-Echegaray served
as vice president of the Puerto Rico Public Broadcasting Corporation, known as
WIPR, he occupied the only chair intended for a public official in the Institute’s
Board of Directors. During the same period (2017) López-Echegaray also held a
seat on the Board of Directors of the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music.

The appeal also alleges that López-Echegaray
lacks authority as a Board member, after he resigned from the WIPR and
Conservatory boards in December 2018. The Institute’s law states there can be
only one government official on its board, the agency noted.

The lawsuit also argues that
the governor’s appointment of Harry Santiago-Perez late last year is null
because he lacks competence in the fields of statistics, economics and
planning.

Santiago-Pérez has a degree in
business administration with a major in accounting and finance and a Master’s degree
in business administration, majoring in accounting.

“This preparation does not meet
the criteria established by the law. The Institute’s claim asks the Court to
order the defendants to cease and desist from acting as members of the Board as
they have no authority to do so,” the Institute stated.

“When approving the Institute
of Statistics Law, it aspired to create an organization with the highest qualifications
of academic excellence. This is essential to enable the Board to carry out its duties
and the Institute to be effective in its mission,” said Orville M. Disdier-Flores,
deputy director of the Institute.

Disdier-Flores, who had served as acting executive director also confirmed that Mario Marazzi-Santiago resumed his duties as the Institute’s executive director, after taking a temporary leave to handle personal matters.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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