Friday, August 14, 2020

Amid Outbreak, Oversight Board Grants Puerto Rico Gov’t Time to Revise Fiscal Plan

By on March 17, 2020

Omar Marrero, director of the Puerto Rico Public-Private Partnerships Authority and the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction & Resiliency (CB/Rafelli González Cotto)

SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rico Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority’s (AAFAF by its Spanish acronym) executive director, Omar J. Marrero, who is also the governor’s representative to the federally established Financial Oversight and Management Board (FOMB) for the island, requested that the panel revise the approval schedule for the government’s fiscal plan in light of the emergency caused by the Covid-19 disease pandemic.

In a letter sent Monday, March 16, to the entity created by the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (Promesa), Marrero said that the “macroeconomic assumptions underpinning the Fiscal Plan are expected to change as a result of the adverse effect of the COVID-19 on the global economy and the preventive shutdown of most businesses in Puerto Rico,” reads a press release issued by the fiscal agency.

The board’s executive director, Natalie Jaresko, replied Tuesday, saying that “considering the Island’s current state of emergency,” it agrees with the government’s request.

“Accordingly, and pursuant to Section 201(d)(1) of PROMESA, the Governor shall submit a revised proposed updated Fiscal Plan to the Oversight Board on April 15, 2020,” Jaresko wrote.

The negative impact on the economy is expected to “persist over the next two quarters and could be considerable,” AAFAF had stressed in a release.

“At this time, prudence dictates that the FOMB pause the process of revising the fiscal plan and give the Government an extension until April 15, 2020 to submit a revised document, provided government operations return to normal,” the official had said.

“The Oversight Board looks forward to working together to certify the Commonwealth Fiscal Plan. We hope that the situation stabilizes as quickly as possible and that the residents of Puerto Rico stay safe. We remain at your disposition during these difficult times,” Jaresko added in her letter. 

Jaresko also made clear that the board was scheduled to certify an updated fiscal plan on April 30, “but will determine, in its sole discretion, when to certify the updated Fiscal Plan given the uncertainty of the current situation.”

“All the efforts led by our Administration are focused on preventing a mass COVID-19 contagion and providing medical care to those residents who are diagnosed with the virus. In addition, the entire fiscal and economic team of Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced is working on evaluating measures to supplement federal aid programs—which are being considered by the U.S. Congress—that would allow our economy to rebound and protect our merchants, as well as workers affected by the closing of businesses,” Marrero said earlier.

“We have a responsibility to seek creative alternatives in order to combat the negative effect on the different sectors of the economy, such as, small and medium tourist businesses,” the governor’s representative added.

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