Puerto Rico gov: Fiscal board exists to make recommendations, not manage gov’t
SAN JUAN – An hour and a half after Puerto Rico’s fiscal control board announced its intention to appoint a “chief transformation officer” for the Electric Power Authority (Prepa), Gov. Ricardo Rosselló warned that the body created by the Promesa law exists to make recommendations, not manage the government and its public corporations.
The governor said the federal law is “clear and precise” in that the management of the government and its public entities rests exclusively on those officials who were “democratically elected” by the people of Puerto Rico.
“The Government of Puerto Rico will be jealous in defending the People of any action that seeks to undermine this process, whence it comes,” Rosselló said in a written statement.
The governor’s expressions are in response to the board’s announcement Wednesday of its “intention to appoint” Noel Zamot—who already serves as revitalization coordinator, as defined by Title V of Promesa—as the “principal transformation officer” for Prepa, as first reported by Caribbean Business.
More than one month after a wind beast named Maria rode roughshod over Puerto Rico, a $300 million contract with Whitefish Energy, a Montana-based firm with a two-person front and meager track record, became the catalyst to appoint Promesa’s revitalization coordinator as emergency manager for the island’s power utility.
“The appointment of Noel is an essential step in achieving the goals of reliable, competitively priced electricity and attracting the private capital we need to revitalize the economy of Puerto Rico,” said Natalie Jaresko, executive director of the board established by Promesa.
Prepa is currently under a court-ordered, debt-restructuring process pursuant to Title III of Promesa. To that end, Jaresko stated it is “common practice” to appoint a “chief restructuring officer to effectively manage the entity while it is in bankruptcy.”
A group of Prepa creditors recently sought to have federal Judge Laura Taylor Swain—who oversees Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy cases under Title III—allow them to pursue the appointment of a receiver at the utility. Judge Swain denied the action amid fierce opposition from both the commonwealth government and the fiscal control board.