García Padilla Defends Delay in Commonwealth Budget Presentation
SAN JUAN – Gov. Alejandro García Padilla has yet to present a budget as he waits for the U.S. Congress to approve debt-restructuring and other economic-development mechanisms for Puerto Rico. However, in a statement Tuesday, the governor said he is close to presenting his budget to the legislature.
“We are faced with a complex historical juncture in which we must take into consideration solely the well-being of Puerto Ricans. The budget is being worked on responsibly and comprehensively to allow for the continuation of services to citizens. It is not a typical situation. It is a unique historical reality. The measures are being worked on and will soon be submitted to the legislature so it can carry out its responsibility and contribute to the country’s causes.”
Meanwhile, at the Capitol, Senate President Eduardo Bhatia said Tuesday that the budget “is very late; I’m not happy. I know it’s a difficult time, but we have to have three scenarios,” which he explained as a budget “with the payment of debt, another without its payment and a third one with only the payment of the debt’s interest.”
“If these aren’t available soon, it’s impossible as a legislature to fulfill our constitutional duty,” he added.
The politician warned “it is the latest in history to receive a budget,” and said the Senate Finance Committee “has already begun the process with possible scenarios.”
“We have to see which agencies will be shrunk and which ones will grow,” Bhatia said.
On Monday, House Speaker Jaime Perelló was uncertain about when the governor would present his budget. “Even though [García Padilla] did not talk to me about specific dates, he will present the budget,” he added.
Perelló also spoke of the difficulties regarding proposed federal legislation for the island being considered in the U.S. Congress and the more than $1.5 billion debt payment in July, which “makes this budget one with many challenges.”
Perelló is confident the U.S. House of Representatives will address the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management & Economic Stability Act (Promesa) bill in the coming weeks and that it will be approved before June, when it is expected to reach the Senate and be promptly addressed, he added
If Congress acted quicker, it would put the island “in an easier position to establish a budget as realistic as possible within the reality the country is going through.”