Puerto Rico governor to announce ‘alternative’ to prevent workday reduction
SAN JUAN – Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said Wednesday that, “in the next few days,” he will be announcing his administration’s alternative to avoid public-sector workday cuts from being implemented starting Sept. 1.
“This is an alternative that will not affect the most vulnerable, does not contemplate employee layoffs and will not impact the growth of the economy in Puerto Rico,” is all the statement from his office, La Fortaleza, says about the alternative.
Howver, the release does warn of the negative effects a furlough would have on the economy, with the governor reiterating his opposition to the workday reduction “pushed” by the fiscal control board, which according to government projections would have a$500 million impact on the island’s economy.
“We cannot allow it. That is why, under the protection of the powers granted by the Promesa law to the Government of Puerto Rico, we reject and will oppose this measure at any forum necessary,” Rosselló says, adding that the measure “is not necessary.”
He also points to “other fiscal measures” the government will implement to get the board to drop plans to reduce one day of work a week for more than 100,000 public employees. The governor said the new fiscal control actions would not affect “the most vulnerable.”
“The proposal of the fiscal oversight board to reduce workdays is not necessary and its effect on the economy would cause serious damage to all business, banking and industry sectors and society in Puerto Rico,” Rosselló added in the release.
Since the certification of the fiscal plan in March, the control board postponed the measure intended to face projections of limited liquidity during the first months of the fiscal year. The board established two possible start dates, July 1 and Sept. 1, and conditions that would prevent or delay the furlough.
The government was able to comply with the board requirement of having a $200 million cash reserve by July 1, the same day the measure was to be implemented. Nevertheless, the fiscal entity has warned on several occasions that the administration has yet to meet a condition that would avoid the furlough starting in September: Demonstrate how it will produce nearly $400 million in fiscal adjustments as established in the certified fiscal plan.
“We have completed the steps required by the certified fiscal plan and will shortly announce other initiatives identified to rule out the need for adverse measures such as reducing work hours,” Rosselló said.
Recently, the government announced it would be reserving an additional 5 percent in agencies’ budgets, expecting to save a combined $100 million.
“I call on the different components of the private sector, professional organizations and society that support our economy and that are going through great challenges–particularly banking, industry and commerce–to join the efforts of our administration to avoid the unnecessary reduction of work hours that would have a direct effect on their companies and the jobs these sectors create in Puerto Rico,” the governor said.