Gov announces measures to assist federal employees in Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN – Gov. Ricardo Rosselló Nevares announced Thursday a series of measures aimed at assisting federal employees on the island who have been affected by the partial federal government shutdown, which is now in its 34th day.
There are more than 14,000 federal employees on the island, of which about 4,500 have not been paid since the shutdown began.
“Given the reality that this closure of the federal government continues and that the impasse that has caused it is showing no immediate signs of a solution, our administration has taken a series of measures to give a hand to affected employees to alleviate certain situations,” the governor said in a statement.
Rosselló announced the establishment of a moratorium on payments to the Electric Power Authority and the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority, as well as a moratorium on any payment of central government debt, including to the Puerto Rico Treasury Department, for 90 days.
Affected federal employees may apply for unemployment benefits and benefits from the Nutrition Assistance Program.
The Economic Development Bank, the governor’s office said, was evaluating the possibility of issuing microloans at low interest.
“Meanwhile, the Volunteer Office of Government employees will help the private sector and non-profit organizations in distributing aid. The Office for Socioeconomic and Community Development will also be activated in the process of distributing aid, including food,” the release reads.
The Metropolitan Bus Authority will be offering free transportation to federal employees who present their official identification, and the Corrections Department “offered assistance to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo, so that family visits are not interrupted,” the governor’s office added.
“These are some initial measures, but some additional ones will be evaluated…in light of the developments, as well as the need for legislation or administrative orders for their implementation. Our administration recognizes the work of federal employees on the Island and is taking these measures as a sign of gratitude and solidarity.
“We reiterate our call to the parties involved in this impasse so it does not continue affecting the services to the citizenry or the income of the federal employees,” the governor said.