Bernier Willing to Defy Oversight Board if Forced to Fire Employees
Popular Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate and president David Bernier affirmed today he is willing to defy the Fiscal Oversight Board created by the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (Promesa) if the entity–which will review all the island’s laws, decisions, and budgets– were to decide there must be layoffs, pension reductions, or develop public policies that do not benefit Puerto Rico’s “best interests.
Although the former Secretary of State trusts in the “good faith” and “constructive spirit” of the board’s seven members to discuss the island’s fiscal plan, “if we present them a route and it is a responsible and adequate alternative but, for any reason we deem capricious, if they want to take a route, for example, that harms our pensioners, fires public employees, hurts local businessmen…of course I will oppose it, of course I will denounce it.”
“What type of opposition?,” asked Caribbean Business.
“Whichever is necessary. If it is capricious, whichever is necessary. First of all, I bet on good faith, I bet on constructive spirit–I don’t have a reason to think differently, since on that board we will reach the necessary agreements, that is why the governor’s profile is so important,” declared Bernier after he concluded his presentation in a candidates forum organized by the College of Social Work Professionals of the Unuversity of the Sacred Heart (USC by its Spanish acronym).
The PDP leader said he is willing to look up to the U.S. Congress or president if the oversight board has policies incongruous to the developing fiscal plan.
“I will not go back to the people and give them excuses such as that the board forced me to fire employees, to reduce our people’s pensions. No. I will go with a specific project that makes it unnecessary to hurt the most vulnerable sectors. I will not let go if it’s capricious. We will use necessary resources,” he reaffirmed.
Although the five-year fiscal plan will be presented to the board by Governor Alejandro García Padilla, Bernier indicated his work team is developing another fiscal program which he would back up, if elected governor.
He considered that, upon the administration’s chance of winning the Nov. 8 elections, “the board will give space for [fiscal plan] discussion with that new governor.”
Bernier explained the plan he is developing, which “the country will vote for”, will include the debt’s restructuring, protect pensioners, and offer the opportunity to local bondholders so they “don’t get hurt in the process.” It will also guarantee the “public budget isn’t affected, so public servers have the tranquility that they will keep their job,” and assuring growth in the private sector.
In addition to the seven board members, there will be an executive director that will revise all decisions in the island. The governor will be an ex officio member of he group with no right to vote.