By Danica Coto
In one of her first moves as Puerto Rico's new governor, Wanda Vázquez announced late Sunday that she is suspending a pending $450,000 contract that is part of the program to rebuild and strengthen the island's power grid, which was destroyed by Hurricane Maria.
Puerto Rico's Electric Power Authority, which is more than $9 billion in debt, had been expected to sign the contract with Stantec, a consulting firm based in Canada. Vázquez did not explain why she was suspending the deal, saying only that transparency is a priority for her administration.
"We are evaluating all government contracts, no exceptions," said Vázquez, who on Wednesday became Puerto Rico's third governor in a week following popular protests over government corruption and mismanagement. "There is no room in this administration for unreasonable expenses."
A Stantec official based in Puerto Rico did not respond to a request for comment.
However, a power company spokesman emailed a statement to The Associated Press saying that PREPA executive director José Ortiz planned to meet with Vázquez on Monday to explain why it was important to sign the contract. Ortiz said the contract has to be submitted before Oct. 6 so the U.S. territory can obtain federal hurricane recovery funds.