Friday, November 22, 2019

Puerto Rico legislative leaders mum after meeting with governor

By on August 21, 2017

SAN JUAN – As thousands of Puerto Ricans began to watch the solar eclipse at about 2:20 p.m., legislative presidents rushed out of the governor’s office, La Fortaleza, without issuing statements about what they discussed with Gov. Ricardo Rosselló during Monday’s legislative conference, which coincides with the beginning of the Legislature’s second regular session.

Neither did the secretary of Public Affairs and Public Policy, Ramón Rosario, who told Caribbean Business he would not comment and stepped into his office.

Who would a Puerto Rico government furlough affect?

Although the press spokespeople for the legislative leaders and their respective chambers were in La Fortaleza’s press room, the discussion was probably in the meeting was intense, because it is the first time the current government leaves without speaking to journalists.

The meeting comes at a time when the government is clashing with the fiscal control board since it request cutting two working days a month for executive branch employees, except the police. While the board is willing to seek a legal recourse to enforce the furlough program because it says it is part of the fiscal plan, the government says it is only a “recommendation” it will not implement and will defend in court.

The governor arrived Monday from a trip to Dallas, where, according to La Fortaleza, he met with members of the fiscal board to discuss how the mediation process with creditors is going. What transpired during the meeting will not be disclosed due to the “confidentiality” of the bankruptcy proceedings under Title III of Promesa in federal court, La Fortaleza Press Secretary Yennifer Álvarez said.

“I presume we are going to discuss issues of the regular session,” Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz told reporters upon arriving in the executive mansion, adding there were no concerns regarding any of the bills to be presented by the governor, including tax reform.

“The bills will all be addressed,” the Senate leader said.

Puerto Rico gov’t discusses furlough alternatives with fiscal board

Given that the governor arrived from Texas on Monday morning, Rivera Schatz was asked if during the legislative conference they would discuss the fiscal board, to which he replied, “I imagine.”

Priority will be given to municipalities

Before the legislative conference, the president of the Senate also indicated that his priority in this new legislative session will be to provide municipalities with the tools they need to take care of their economic problems, since the central government has cut some of their funding and the Government Development Bank (GDB) has their accounts frozen.

He assured the bills that could be passed in the session will be discussed during the Aug. 29 Municipal Summit, which will be hosted by the Senate, and anticipated that they will be evaluating Municipal Revenue Collections Center (CRIM by its Spanish acronym) issues such as if towns will carry out property appraisals and garbage collection.

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