Asume

The nominee to lead the Administration for Child Support (Asume), Terilyn Sastre, acknowledged that she has never handled alimony cases and did not respond to many of the questions asked by members of the Puerto Rico Senate Appointments Committee on statistics and others processes that are carried out in that unit, attached to the Department of Family Affairs.

Senate Vice President Marially González Huertas questioned the nominee about her lack of answers to the questions that were asked during her confirmation hearing. The senator asked Sastre if she knew how often a review or modification of the established pension could be requested and for what reasons, but she replied that she would have to "look for it" because she is "not up to date with that right now."

Among the information shared by Sastre, it was revealed that there are a total of 13,748 employers in Puerto Rico who are in non-compliance with Asume, this because even when they withhold the pension payment from the person, they do not remit it.

Sen. Juan Zaragoza classified this situation as unacceptable and compared it with those establishments that charge their clients the Sales & Use Tax (IVU, Spanish acronym) and do not pay it to the Treasury Department.

Sastre, who is not yet in office, assured the committee members at the beginning of her presentation that part of her work plan is to restore trust in Asume. "As part of the work plan for the next few years is to restore the people's trust in Asume, something that is easier said than done. However, we have outlined short, medium and long-term strategies to serve as a guide in this process, aligned with the 2019-2025 Strategic Plan," she said.

The nominee indicated that she will ensure that child support reaches the minors who need it as quickly as possible. For this, she explained that Asume already makes the payment of alimony through the ATMs of Banco Popular de Puerto Rico feasible. "With this alliance, payments can be made quickly, easily, at any time and without the need to go to a bank branch," she said.

Limited Manpower

Moreover, Sastre reported that Asume currently has 88 local and 10 regional offices. The entity used to have more than 700 employees and not it has roughly 400 because if one worker retires or dies their position is "frozen."

She added that there aren't many contracts for professional services, saying that "we would have to eliminate some contracts and open up spots." Along that line, she said that jobs need to be opened, since Asume has not had a Finance Director for three years.

Meanwhile, Sastre affirmed that the agency should focus on expediting pension debt cases; initiatives such as payment plans, agile referrals in contempt of court cases, and filing of majority cases.

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