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Pesquera: Prasa Contractors Resort to Bankruptcy, Plant Maintenance at Risk

By on February 19, 2016

SAN JUAN – The fiscal crisis affecting the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) and a long history of mismanagement has driven dozens of its independent contractors, many of whom worked on infrastructure maintenance projects, to bankruptcy.

According to former Transportation and Public Works (DTOP) Secretary Carlos Pesquera, Prasa owes some $120 million to contractors and suppliers for projects totaling $350 million that have not gone beyond the design phase. Pesquera believes that the agency’s decision not to issue $300 million in new bonds last year drove several contractors that continued operating using credit lines into bankruptcy.

Pesquera, who was in charge of all infrastructure development projects under Gov. Pedro Rosselló’s administration, explained that several contractors continued working on their projects because Prasa President Alberto Lázaro had said the bond issuance was “a sure thing” and payments would be effected after the bonds went to market.

“After [García Padilla’s] regrettable ‘I don’t care’ comment, as well as others regarding the possibility of defaulting on Puerto Rico’s debt, sales efforts came to naught,” Pesquera said.

After meeting with several federal officials and lawmakers during his trips to Washington, Pesquera, who is running for the New Progressive Party’s (NPP’s) candidacy for resident commissioner, assured he knows firsthand how much harm the governor’s remarks had done to Puerto Rico in the finance world, where the island’s credibility has eroded.

In an interview with Caribbean Business, Pesquera assured the damage done to Puerto Rico’s credibility in the business world “is very serious,” which in turn has affected the government’s possibility of accessing financial markets.

Pesquera estimated there is a health risk with the paralyzing of Prasa’s maintenance projects, because “this is all about water quality,” and for that you have to provide maintenance to Prasa’s filtration plants.

On Thursday Pesquera accompanied NPP gubernatorial hopeful Pedro Pierluisi to the Associated General Contractors’ monthly luncheon, where the resident commissioner said Puerto Rico needs “a culture of action and performance” and that they can count on him to implement it.

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