Puerto Rico government and public corporations under control of fiscal oversight board
NEW YORK – Within the span of less than a half hour, and amid protests outside and inside the building where it met, the board established by the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (Promesa) officially took over the fiscal course the island will be taking for the next few years.
After the first conclave of the fiscal control board ended, its president, José Carrión III, held an aside with reporters in which he detailed the next steps to appoint an executive director, coordinator and remaining staff.
During the public meeting at the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in New York, the appointment of Carrión as board chairman was unanimously approved. The members also established that the process to select the board’s executive director would be utilizing a talent search firm to identify the most competent person for the job. The date on which the official appointment will be made was not revealed.
Along with the executive director, also to be chosen will be the position of coordinator as well as the rest of the team, which Carrión said will include attorneys. The chairman said the decision to seek legal advice is related to a request by Gov. Alejandro García Padilla in order to intervene in cases that his administration faces in the Federal Court.
Members listed the troubled public entities to be placed under the board’s immediate oversight. Puerto Rico’s central government, three retirement systems (teachers, judicial and employees), university (UPR) and all its public corporations, including the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority and Electric Power Authority, were placed under the immediate control of the entity.
Gov. Alejandro García Padilla was also required to inform the board periodically on cash flow, bank accounts, revenue, receipt and disbursement of federal funds and payroll.
Oct. 14 was established as the date of for the governor to deliver the fiscal plan, although it is yet to be known if the board adopted a timeline proposed by the governor in his broadcast message Thursday.
Regarding rumors that Bill Cooper would serve as executive director of the board, Carrión said it was too early to say someone was already picked to fill the position. However, he did not rule out that Cooper was one of the most capable candidates given his involvement in the drafting of Promesa.
The board members stressed that they would be “as transparent as possible,” having already enabled a website where they will be publishing documents. Carrión asked for patience because its been “only 20 days since we met.”
When asked if he had met with Puerto Rico parties’ leadership, Carrion said, “The board hasn’t met with anyone,” and that it was just holding its first official meeting. However, he acknowledged that some board members may have been approached individually.
Caribbean Business asked whether there had been discussions regarding a decision about the government of Puerto Rico paying the interest due Oct. 3, but Carrión said he hasn’t received word about the matter.
Ana Matosantos, Arthur González, Andrew Biggs, Carlos García, José González, José Carrión III and David Skeel are the seven voting members of the Financial Oversight & Management Board. Former New York Lieutenant Gov. Richard Ravitch represents Gov. García Padilla, who acts as an ex-officio member.