Friday, December 15, 2017

Puerto Rico Senate makes way for central government reorganization

By on December 6, 2017

SAN JUAN – The New Government Act, which would set the parameters for a central government reorganization plan, is closer to being signed by Gov. Ricardo Rosselló after the approval of Senate Bill 653.

Support for the measure was achieved after several amendments that reduce the prerogatives the bill originally granted to the governor. Among the main changes is one introduced by Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz, establishing that the reorganization plan would be annulled if the legislative measures needed to implement said plan are not filed within an established period.

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The measure is an administration bill that, if approved, establishes that the governor could carry out a government reorganization plan to, for instance, reduce the number of agencies by means of consolidation.

The bill’s statement of motives says the measure seeks to “empower the governor of Puerto Rico to maximize resources and personnel of the executive branch through the transfer, consolidation, reorganization, outsourcing and creation of new and more efficient government structures and agencies.”

According to the measure, once the plan is submitted, the Legislature will have 30 days, with the possibility of extending the term 15 days, to meet the executive branch’s proposal. If the Legislature does not express otherwise, the plan will be approved. Then Rosselló would have 15 days to file the bills needed to comply with the reorganization plan.

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Rivera Schatz’s amendment establishes that if the governor does not submit a bill in those 15 days, the plan will not enter into effect. Likewise, it establishes that any decision made at government agencies while the bills are approved will be provisional.

The Legislature also has a 40-day period or until the end of its session to address the measures. Then, if the bills are not enacted, the plan to which the bill refers will not go into effect.

Defenders of Senate Bill 653 argue that implementing this legislation is important to avoid delaying this administration’s attempts to reorganize the central government. Among them, Sen. Migdalia Padilla mentioned the efforts of the administration of former Gov. Alejandro García Padilla to cut government positions.

Mientras, los detractores de la medida cuestionaron cuál es su propósito ya que no crea mecanismos distintos a los ya existentes para proponer cambios en las estructuras del gobierno. El senador Eduardo Bhatia argumentó que las enmiendas del proyecto “lo aguaron” y que la Legislatura le está dando paso a su aprobación para que Rosselló Nevares “pueda salvar cara”.

Meanwhile, detractors questioned its purpose because it does not create new mechanisms to propose changes in government structures. Sen. Eduardo Bhatia, the Popular Democratic Party minority leader, argued that the amendments “made it worse” and that the Legislature is making way for its approval so Rosselló “can save face.”

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