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Rosselló says he has a ‘clear difference’ with Fiscal Oversight Board approach

By on January 20, 2017

SAN JUAN – Gov. Ricardo Rosselló notified Thursday the Financial Oversight and Management Board that, while he agrees “on certain baseline views of the fiscal situation,” he has “a clear difference in approach and outlook” from those expressed in the letter it sent to him Wednesday.

“It is my view, that any fiscal plan premised exclusively on a reduction in the health, well-being, and living standards of the People of Puerto Rico through healthcare delivery cutbacks, current retiree pension reductions of our most vulnerable segments of the population, and layoffs is by its nature unacceptable,” Rosselló’s letter to Chairman José L. Carrión reads.

Rosselló was referring specifically to the recommendations made by the board regarding reducing health care and higher education spending, as well as a “pension reform.”

In his eight-page-long reply to the board, Rosselló argues that the suggested measures are “inconsistent with Promesa, which requires the preservation and delivery of essential services and adequate funding of public pension benefits.”

For the recently sworn-in governor, moving Puerto Rico along a path for economic growth is the only way to pull the island out of its economic and fiscal crisis. To that effect, Rosselló reiterated the pertinence of his New Progressive Party’s political platform, “Plan for Puerto Rico,” where he contends the “the requisite policies that underlie the actions we have already undertaken and support our approach to the development of a fiscal plan” laid out.

Rosselló has asked for an extension on the deadline given by the oversight board to submit his fiscal plan. This extension will be formally considered, the board said in its Wednesday letter, at the next public meeting, the exact date for which has yet to be revealed, but is slated for later this month.

The board made clear that such extension would be “contingent upon the Government meeting and adhering to a set of conditions and timelines, including a commitment not to take more loans to provide short-term liquidity, develop a liquidity plan and provide further financial information, among others.”

Nevertheless, the governor insisted that, despite his administration’s approach being “in sharp contrast” with several of the board’s proposed initiatives, he is “looking forward to working” with it to “find an acceptable balance.”

Rosselló also highlighted in his letter that, while he intends to increase government revenue, he will not increase taxes on the poor and middle class, but, when opportune, “spark economic growth” by reducing such personal income taxes.

To reiterate, Rosselló details all the executive orders he has signed and the measures he has sent to the Legislature to “jumpstart the economic development of the island.”

Read the fiscal board’s letter here.

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló (CB/ Juan José Rodríguez)

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló (CB/ Juan José Rodríguez)

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