Sunday, May 26, 2019

Puerto Rico fiscal agency director calls for appointment a revitalization coordinator

By on March 20, 2019

Christian Sobrino, the governor’s representative to the fiscal board (CB file photo)

Writes to fiscal board, also saying it lacks legal basis to annul budget resolutions

SAN JUAN – The executive director of Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (Aafaf by its Spanish acronym), Christian Sobrino Vega, wrote to the island fiscal oversight board’s executive director, Natalie Jaresko, urging the panel to promptly appoint a new revitalization coordinator and insisting the board lacks a legal basis to annul 24 budget resolutions.

In his first letter, Sobrino, who is also the government’s representative to the fiscal board, urged the congressionally established panel to comply with the process established under the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (Promesa) for the appointment of a new revitalization coordinator.

Jaresko has taken over the position left vacant by Noel Zamot, who resigned alleging certain actions of the central government to monopolize infrastructure projects.

Sobrino Vega said Promesa “does not provide a mechanism for the Board to temporarily name a revitalization coordinator, as the Board has done after the sudden departure of Noel Zamot, who held this position,” adding that the law “does not provide for the interim appointment of a Revitalization Coordinator.”

According to Promesa, the governor appoints the board’s revitalization coordinator from a list provided by the panel. The appointee must have ample experience in planning, redevelopment, engineering and market participation of infrastructure projects.

Replying to Sobrino, Chairman José B. Carrión wrote that Jaresko will be serving on an interim basis while the board selects candidates to recommend to the governor “for appointment to such position on a permanent basis.”

“In the meantime,” Carrión added, “the Oversight Board is fully committed to informing investors about Title V [of Promesa] and the expedited permitting associated with it, and encouraging them to participate in the Title V process. This work cannot stop while we search for a permanent Revitalization Coordinator. We can all agree that Puerto Rico would benefit from private capital investment and we want to assure investors that – as you would agree – Puerto Rico is open for business.”

In a second letter addressed to the board, Sobrino reiterated that the panel lacks a legal basis to invalidate some 24 joint resolutions that were passed by the island’s legislative assembly and approved by the governor.

“The Board does not have the authority to capriciously invalidate joint resolutions that are consistent with the fiscal plan and the budget,” Sobrino said.

He alleged that the board has no legal basis to object the budget resolutions because the government is currently challenging a lower court decision before the First Circuit Court of Appeals that prevents the government from making budget transfers. Sobrino also said the resolutions do not go against the fiscal plan certified in October, and that six of the appropriations consist of funds that have already been disbursed to municipalities.

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