Thursday, September 21, 2017

UPR was unaware of Rosselló’s proposal to reduce cuts



By on March 20, 2017

SAN – The interim president of the University of Puerto Rico, Nivia Fernández, admitted she learned for the first time Monday of  Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s proposal for reducing the budgetary cuts to the institution to $241 million by fiscal year 2021, as required by the fiscal plan certified by the financial control board.

“We did not know. We had no knowledge [of the letter],” Fernández said after leaving a meeting in La Fortaleza.

To Caribbean Business questions about the fiscal plan the UPR has to present to the board by March 31, she said, “We are still at around $201 million [in identified adjustments], but with the letter…we have to take another look [at those numbers]….” Although she could not say if the delivery date would be met, she said they are working toward it.

The University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras campus, clock tower (File photo)

The University of Puerto Rico’s Río Piedras campus clock tower (File photo)

The interim president added that during a UPR governing board meeting to be held Monday afternoon, both the governor’s proposal as well as where the university is at “in its talks” will be discussed. She assured that the possibility of a tuition adjustment remains on the table.

Fernández seemed to suggest the university did not directly request the intervention of government or fiscal board advisers to assist in identifying the required budgetary adjustments. However, she welcomed the “technical assistance” they could provide the UPR and said the Rosselló administration has always made itself available to provide the institution with assistance.

“We really want to work to help each other and pull out of this crisis,” the interim president said, adding that the UPR seeks “alliances” with the central government to tackle the university’s fiscal situation.

The morning meeting in La Fortaleza also had the objective of finding ways to include the UPR in the medical cannabis bill.

“We want to strengthen the UPR in the greatest capacity possible in the development of this bill,” said Fernández, who could not say how much revenue the UPR’s inclusion in the measure would represent, as the efforts are “very premature.”

The governor asked the fiscal control board on Monday to reduce from $450 million to $241 million the budget cuts the university has to implement by the summer of 2021.

The letter also calls for the board’s advisory team–led by the McKinsey and Proskauer firms and accountants Ernst & Young–to identify additional revenue measures to mitigate the cuts to the university’s budget.

The Rosselló administration believes the reduction would be possible if about $209 million in additional savings for fiscal 2021 are achieved in healthcare and education, among other areas.

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