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Fiscal board focused on privatizing Puerto Rico electric utility ‘as soon as possible’

By on August 31, 2017

Prepa headquarters in San Juan (CB Photo/ Eduardo San Miguel Tió)

SAN JUAN – Transforming the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) through privatization is priority for the fiscal control board and Revitalization Coordinator Noel Zamot, who was echoed by Chairman José Carrión on Thursday when he said critical energy, transportation and water projects will be urgently addressed via the Promesa law’s Title V.

However, energy projects are the prime concern becasue of the power utility’s precarious condition.

“The main focus is, and will be, energy with the idea [being] setting up and having something visible on how we can privatize the Electric Power Authority as soon as possible,” Carrión said in a NotiUno radio interview.

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“Noel [Zamot] has expressed it; I think it is already a reality. The people of Puerto Rico deserve another [electric power] authority. This topic that which for so many years we have been talking about deserves that this theme, him, let’s get out of it. It is a fundamental issue for economic development to have access to electricity at a reasonable cost. We have to change that and I am sure the governor, and the government, share the vision of privatizing the Prepa as soon as possible,” the chairman reiterated.

On Aug.14, the public corporation’s executive director, Ricardo Ramos, publicly acknowledged that the island’s electric power infrastructure is in crisis, mainly due to lack of maintenance. He also said the majority of the utility’s equipment is useless and is the reason for the frequency of temporary outages in several of the island’s regions. Ramos also noted that the corporation has lost about 2,800 employees and is why it recently announced the hiring of 65 workers.

Congress attentive of island’s ‘fiscal issue’

Carrión also reiterated that it is the government’s responsibility to drive the island’s economic development since “there is a government here that has a House, Senate and executive, and can implement issues” toward that goal.

“We are going to work with the government to advance the initiatives it may have in terms of economic development; we will be helping them wherever, but it is up to the government to develop economic development” areas, the chairman said.

Likewise, Carrión warned that the U.S. Congress remains vigilant of how the “fiscal issue” is being handled on the island.

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As soon as we begin to take care of the fiscal situation–and part of addressing it, unfortunately, is working on the issue of limiting workdays– because then we can change the conversation and we can try to advance other issues and other things the government wants to promulgate in Washington which, with great pleasure, we will be there to help them,” he said.

“The reality is that we cannot pretend to be renegotiating our debt…and at the same time not touch upon the fundamental problem that is where most of the bulk of government spending is. And that is why we are calling for these measures [furloughs], requesting these, agreed-to, measures. Everyone gets hurt here, unfortunately. Now is the time to take action,” Carrión went on, adding that “we have to do it now. The faster we begin, the faster our economic recovery can start.”

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