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Puerto Rico governor reiterates his refusal to comply with fiscal board impositions

By on April 19, 2018

En conferencia de prensa tras la reunión que sostuvo la Junta de Supervisión Fiscal.

Posted by Ricardo Rossello on Thursday, April 19, 2018

SAN JUAN – While the Financial Oversight and Management Board (FOMB) held a public meeting to certify the fiscal plans for the commonwealth, Puerto Rico’s Electric Power (Prepa) and Aqueduct & Sewer (Prasa) authorities, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló was tweeting that his administration would not comply with the fiscal board’s intentions to establish its own public policy.

While Rosselló usually waits for the conclusion of the fiscal board’s meetings to react, this time he decided to state on Twitter his opposition to the impositions found in the fiscal plans the board presented Wednesday and is expected to certify in mere hours, instead of the plans submitted by Rosselló.

“It is unfortunate that the Oversight Board insists on establishing public policy and thus usurps the powers of the democratically elected government. If they were to carry out their plan, it would affect the execution of the fiscal plan by altering the established revenue projections,” the governor said.

Chairman José Carrión (Jaime Rivera/CB)

Rosselló added that Section 205 of Promesa, the federal law that created the fiscal board, “clearly establishes that it is the government’s responsibility to dictate public policy. Our position has always been clear: issues that are not in line with my government’s public policy will not be carried out. Period.”

Section 205 states that the oversight board can submit recommendations to the governor or the legislature to ensure compliance with the fiscal plan and to promote financial stability. The executive and legislative branches have 90 days to respond to the recommendations.

If the board recommendations are not accepted, the government and the legislature must list the reasons in a letter sent to the board, as well as to the U.S. president and Congress.

“The Board’s purpose is to determine the overall financial numbers of the budget while the Government’s purpose is to establish and carry out public policy,” added Rosselló, while assuring his commitment to carrying out plans in which his administration and the board have reached agreements.

Puerto Rico oversight board publishes fiscal plan it would certify

Despite agreeing on several points–including the need to establish a work credit–the governor refused to propose any bill that would reduce vacation and sick leave days,  “nor will we eliminate the Christmas bonus.”

“Our position regarding pensions has always been crystal-clear. We will not allow for a vulnerable sector of our population to be attacked. It is wrong and immoral to reduce the benefits for those that have contributed to the economy,” Rosselló added in reference to the board’s request to reduce pensions by 10 percent.

Willing to do ‘whatever it takes’

Meanwhile, House Speaker Carlos “Johnny” Méndez said in a statement he is willing to do “whatever it takes” to stop to the board’s impositions. His declarations echoed those Rosselló made two weeks ago.

“All options are on the table to stop the imposition of measures that will undermine our people and force a massive exodus of people to the states. In the next few days, I will be evaluating all available options to determine the course of action,” Méndez said.

Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) minority Sen. Juan Dalmau asked the House of Representatives to immediately pass Joint Senate Resolution 215 to order Treasury Secretary Raúl Maldonado to stop disbursements to the fiscal board.

Rosselló will offer a press conference once the board meeting is over along with his representative to the fiscal board, Christian Sobrino, and the executive director of the Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (Aafaf by its Spanish initials), Gerardo Portela.

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