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Puerto Rico gov’t to appeal Prepa ‘transformation officer’ designation

By on October 26, 2017

SAN JUAN – The administration of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló will appeal in “political and judicial forums” the intention of the island’s fiscal oversight board to appoint a “chief transformation officer” for the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa), Public Affairs Secretary Ramón Rosario said Thursday.

The fiscal board had said Wednesday it intended to appoint Revitalization Coordinator Noel Zamot as in charge of achieving reliable electricity at competitive rates and attracting private capital.

However, the government’s stance is that those duties are the responsibility of Rosselló or the officials he appoints to the public utility.

Puerto Rico fiscal board appoints ‘chief transformation officer’ at power utility

“The position of the government is that it’s unnecessary and they can’t do it. In the same way we fought against the reduction of working hours, we will defend [Prepa] and the elected government’s ability to govern, at any pertinent forum,” declared Rosario in a press conference alongside Prepa Executive Director Ricardo Ramos.

“We’ve had agreements with the board and disagreements with the board. This is one of them and we will take them to the forums to defend the elected government’s authority to manage its agencies and corporations,” the secretary of Public Affairs added.

The official compared the situation to the disagreement between the government and the board when the latter sought a public worker furlough implemented. The board sued for the federal court to force the government to cut 10% of the public pensions as well.

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After Hurricane Maria passed, leaving the island devastated, the board withdrew the lawsuit. Puerto Rico’s $73 billion public debt is being mediated in federal court under Title III of federal Promesa law.

“What an entity such as the fiscal oversight board does is not representative of the position of the federal government, and when we disagree, we disagree, and we will take it to the forums, as we did when they wanted to reduce the work days of our public employees. At the end of the day, that battle was won when they withdrew their own lawsuit, and we hope to win this one,” Rosario said.

For his part, Prepa’s director explained that Zamot’s designation doesn’t alter the chain of command within the public corporation and compared the new “chief transformation officer” position to that of former Chief Restructuring Officer Lisa Donahue.

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“The chain of command will remain intact. The executive director of Prepa, Ricardo Luis Ramos Rodríguez, is present here today. They haven’t proposed a change of command. The role of Mr. Zamot, as I understand it, is basically what would’ve been Lisa Donahue’s, as a restructuring officer… My expectation, since it’s necessary, the more people, the better,” Ramos said.

The official expects that Zamot will put into effect Title V of Promesa, which covers  island infrastructure revitalization, and to collaborate in bringing more funds to repair the electric grid.

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