La Fortaleza presents fiscal plan to NPP lawmakers
SAN JUAN – New Progressive Party (NPP) legislators held a meeting Monday with Gov. Ricardo Rosselló in which the fiscal plan submitted to the financial control board on Feb. 28 was discussed.
Public Affairs Secretary Ramón Rosario said that, besides the administration’s fiscal plan, the legislative agenda was also discussed, including the destination marketing organization (DMO) bill and permitting reform.
The official added that “technical meetings” of “information exchange” between fiscal board and government advisers have begun. However, Rosario said that, to date, the body created by Promesa has not made any expressions regarding the approval of the document.
“We are confident the plan presented to the board meets all the parameters of Promesa. Our plan A, plan B and plan C is to defend that government plan, which protects the most vulnerable,” Rosario said.
What’s more, the fiscal plans of the Electric Power Authority (Prepa), the Aqueduct & Sewer Authority (Prasa), the Government Development Bank, the Highways & Transportation Authority (HTA) and the Cooperatives Supervision & Insurance Corp. (Cossec by its Spanish acronym) have yet to be discussed with lawmakers.
“We have limited ourselves to discussing with both presidents of the [legislative] bodies and the NPP legislative conference the implications [of the central government’s fiscal plan], which is the one being discussed by the board and for which we should get a response before March 15,” Rosario replied to a Caribbean Business’ question.
When asked about the individual fiscal plans, Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz said “we support the governor’s initiatives,” adding that La Fortaleza and the legislative leadership are “addressing aspects orderly, one by one.” However, he did not specify whether majority lawmakers are aware of the content in these documents, which were presented to the board Feb. 21 but have yet to be published.
Regarding Monday’s meeting, House Speaker Carlos “Johnny” Méndez said they addressed “those projects that are emblematic of the administration […] and more than anything focused on those measures being approved as soon as possible and continuing to send the message to the credit-rating agencies and the fiscal control board that this government is one of compliance.”
For Rivera Schatz, the meeting was “very productive” and he assured that the NPP legislators will be consistent with the governor’s fiscal plan.
Pending Legislative Agenda
Regarding permitting reform, the officials indicated that amendments were agreed to with party mayors, particularly over the legislation’s “authorized professional” and the municipalities’ ability to oversee this figure.
Regarding the medical cannabis bill, Méndez said both legislative bodies will hold joint public hearings on the measure presented by La Fortaleza.
Meanwhile, Rivera Schatz said the amendments to penalties for possession of marijuana filed by Rep. Milagros Charbonier, was not discussed Monday. “We can take a look at it in the future,” he said, adding that he believes there aren’t “abysmal differences that cannot be overcome.”