Gov. Rosselló assures budget will be ready next week
SAN JUAN – Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said Friday that the Puerto Rico government is “on the verge of completing” its final budget proposal for the next fiscal year, and will present it to the fiscal control board by Tuesday.
“Yes, it will definitely be ready [by then],” said the governor when asked by Caribbean Business whether the administration will meet the Tuesday deadline to deliver its version of the next fiscal year’s budget. It is still unclear if the document will be made public that day.
During a private event in San Juan, Rosselló added that his team has been working along with fiscal board staff to ensure the budget meets the requirements of the federal Promesa law and the parameters set forth in the government’s certified fiscal plan.
Regarding the restructuring process of the Highways & Transportation Authority (HTA) and whether the government will ask the fiscal board to initiate bankruptcy proceedings for the troubled entity under Title III of Promesa, Rosselló said the matter continues to be assessed.
“It is being evaluated, some agreements [with creditors] are being worked upon,” the governor said. Sources told Caribbean Business that the administration still negotiates with certain creditor groups, including those of HTA, and that as early as this week had made a restructuring offer to these creditors.
Before the governor’s remarks, fiscal board Chairman José Carrión, who also showed up to the event, indicated that the entity established by Promesa has yet to receive a final budget version from the government, nor a formal request to start a Title III process for HTA.
“Well, we’ve had preliminary talks [on the budget]…the draft. Soon, when they submit the budget, we will evaluate it,” Carrión told CB. Regarding HTA’s Title III prospects, he said that “as soon as a formal request from the government comes, we will study it, but we see [Title III for HTA] favorably.”
During this week’s federal court hearing on the central government and Sales Tax Financing Corp. (Cofina by its Spanish acronym) Title III cases, legal counsel for the board anticipated that the public corporation would soon begin the court-ordered process provided by Promesa. It is also expected that other public corporations such as the Infrastructure Financing and the Convention Center District authorities could also commence Title III cases.
As for the budget-certification process, on May 8 the fiscal board granted the Puerto Rican government an additional 14 days to improve the draft budget delivered on April 30 before the entity approves it or notifies violations. That term expires Tuesday, May 23. Since the delivery of its “draft” spending plan to the board, the administration has yet to disclose budget-related documents, calling them confidential “working document.”