Puerto Rico gov: ‘There was no agreement’ to cut workdays
SAN JUAN — Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló denied Thursday that his administration had negotiated with the fiscal control board the implementation of workday reductions in exchange for avoiding furloughs.
He challenged Chairman José Carrión, who said earlier in the morning that the workday cuts are part of the fiscal plan because it was “negotiated” with the government. “If we had not considered [the workday cuts] an integral element of the fiscal plan, we would not have certified it,” he said in a NotiUno radio interview).
“I can assure you that here there was no agreement with the Government of Puerto Rico to implement this. In fact, the morning when the fiscal plan was certified, we didn’t have information to that effect,” Rosselló said at a press conference in which he announced Puerto Rico’s affiliation to the First Responder Network Authority program, in La Fortaleza.
The governor hinted that a “conversation with third parties” may have occurred, but insisted that they did not have the authority to negotiate on behalf of the government.
“This is very simple. The government negotiation with the Fiscal Oversight Board had to be done with the principals, that is, the governor of Puerto Rico, the representative before the board back then, Elías Sánchez, and Gerardo Portela, who is the director of Fafaa [Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority]. There was no agreement,” the governor said.
In another radio interview, on WKAQ, Carrión said he didn’t remember if the negotiation to implement the cuts happened with Sánchez or his assistant. He stressed, however, that the government made the proposal.
“The Government ruled out the furloughs. The matter of the workday reduction was agreed to… We wouldn’t have certified the fiscal plan without that,” the chairman emphasized.
The case is currently before Judge Judith Dein, who was referred to the legal action filed by the board in federal court to declare that both the workday cuts and a 10% reduction of public pensions are “mandatory” in the fiscal plan and, therefore, must be put into effect.
The board’s request was for two workdays to be cut from Sept. 1 to June 30 or until the government achieved the required savings. The government has yet to respond to the lawsuit filed by the fiscal entity created by the Promesa law.
“Tomorrow [Sept. 1] that measure is not going to be implemented, but we are willing to cooperate, we have indeed been working with the Fiscal Oversight Board in all the measures we have proposed, we are implementing the fiscal plan,” the governor declared in a speech at the Certified Public Accountants Convention in Fajardo.