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Gov’t won’t deliver fiscal plan this month

By on September 27, 2016

SAN JUAN – Gov. Alejandro García Padilla announced Tuesday that the release of the island’s fiscal & economic growth plan won’t take place before the end of this month and said he didn’t know where the September delivery date came from.

His administration will wait for Promesa’s fiscal oversight board to present a timeline to deliver the document, and if the deadline is “unreasonable,” he “would confront” the board, the governor added.

“We don’t know where that particular information regarding [the] September [delivery date] came from. Some people, playing politics, have tried to rush such a serious issue, and you have to explain it so the people can understand it. There is a fiscal plan approved and that plan was validated by international experts and the U.S. Treasury,” García Padilla told reporters after attending the opening of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association’s convention at the Puerto Rico Convention Center.

Gov. Alejandro García Padilla

Gov. Alejandro García Padilla

However, government sources told Caribbean Business that the administration intended to present the fiscal plan–which would cover 10 years–before the end of this month, along with an updated commonwealth financial report. Moreover, the governor said in early August that he expected “this new fiscal plan be ready right after the board is appointed and operational.” These remarks were made during a forum at the City University of New York (CUNY).

See also: García Padilla on Compliance with Promesa

García Padilla explained Friday that what the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management & Economic Stability Act (Promesa) requires is an “update” of the fiscal plan, which was first presented in September 2015 and revised in January. He had previously said his administration’s efforts are geared toward having a “new fiscal plan” submitted to the board “as soon as possible.”

See also: Puerto Rico Gov’t Awaits Deadline for Fiscal Plan

“What does Promesa require? If you read the law, Promesa asks us to revise [the plan]. When do we have to submit it? The law requires the board to present us with a timetable and the board has yet to do so. Therefore, some of those who have been urging [the government to release the plan] know they are untimely,” García Padilla said.

Among those who have called for the fiscal plan to be presented as soon as possible is Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, who says it would give the government credibility before beginning negotiations with creditors through the oversight board, which will review fiscal decisions, laws and budgets of Puerto Rico, as well as the debt-restructuring process.

Since the board holds its first official meeting Friday, the governor was asked whether the fiscal plan would be ready within the next few days, if so requested by the board.

“If the board asks me [for the plan to be delivered] next week, it would be unreasonable. In fact, I have had discussions with board members. If the board presents us with an unreasonable timeframe, I would confront it. I’m sure that the board, as they are knowledgeable about the matter and its complications, isn’t going to impose an unreasonable timetable. It is important that the board presents a responsible schedule, and so it will be,” he said.

See also: Fiscal Board Schedules First Official Meeting

García Padilla added that his administration is updating the pension systems’ liquidity numbers and this is “not done overnight.”

“What I don’t want to do is present a fiscal plan with footnotes that say, ‘These numbers are not ready and may vary.’ Numbers are being updated responsibly. We are on time,” he stressed.

For the past few months, Financial Advisory & Fiscal Agency Authority and U.S. Treasury staff have been reviewing the document. Efforts have mainly focused on updating estimates, including the current deficit and revenue projections.

Caribbean Business reporter Luis J. Valentín Ortiz contributed to this article.

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